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College Basketball

College Basketball | Drake receives votes in preseason AP top 25, Purdue 7th

CARBONDALE — Drake's men's basketball team received 11 votes in The Associated Press preseason top 25 released Monday.

The Bulldogs return all five starters, as well as four of their top-five bench scorers, from last season's 26-5 squad that earned the program's first at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Drake finished a game behind Loyola during the regular season and reached the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament before falling to the eventual-champion Ramblers. The Bulldogs beat Wichita State 53-52 in the NCAA Tournament before losing to USC 72-56. 

Senior point guard Roman Penn (11.2 points, 3.2 rebounds per game last season, MVC-best 131 assists) missed the last seven games with an injury but was named to the All-MVC first team after the league season. Forward ShanQuan Hemphill, a 6-6 senior that averaged 13.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, was the MVC Newcomer of the Year and a second team all-league pick. Drake also returns 6-6 forward Tremell Murphy (10.1 ppg., 5.2 rpg.), shooting guard D.J. Wilkins (10.1 ppg., 67 3-pointers) and 6-10, 275-pound center Darnell Brodie (7.7 ppg., 7.3 rpg.). The Bulldogs also added senior guard Ayo Akinwole, a grad transfer from Omaha, and two talented freshmen in 6-6 guard/forward Tucker DeVries and 6-foot guard Conor Enright from Mundelein High School. 

Tucker DeVries, Drake coach Darian DeVries' son, was the Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year and a top-100 recruit on Rivals.com (95). 

Gonzaga, which came up short in its pursuit of the first perfect season in college basketball in 45 years in the national title game, was the preseason No. 1. Coach Mark Few's Bulldogs earned 55 of 63 first-place votes from a national panel to easily outdistance No. 2 UCLA in the preseason poll. UCLA earned the other eight first-place votes. Kansas, Villanova and Texas rounded out the top five. 

Purdue and former Saluki coach Matt Painter were seventh in the preseason poll. The Boilermakers return all five starters from last season's 18-10 squad that reached the NCAA Tournament. Purdue was 34th in the country in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com, a website that tracks statistical analytics. 

Belmont, which is scheduled to leave the Ohio Valley Conference to join the MVC after this season, received seven votes. Colorado, which is scheduled to open the Paradise Jam against SIU on Nov. 19 in the U.S. Virgin Islands, received four votes. The Buffaloes lost McKinley Wright (15.2 ppg.) to the NBA, but return two starters from last season's 23-9 squad and added the No. 1 recruiting class in the Pac-12. Colorado State, which is also in the Paradise Jam, received 11 votes. 

The Big Ten and Southeastern conferences had a national-best five ranked teams each. The Big Ten has No. 6 Michigan, No. 7 Purdue, No. 11 Illinois, No. 17 Ohio State and No. 21 Maryland. The SEC has No. 14 Alabama, No. 16 Arkansas, No. 18 Tennessee and No. 22 Auburn joining Kentucky. The ACC is next up with four, with No. 20 Florida State and No. 25 Virginia joining Duke and UNC. 

todd.hefferman@thesouthern.com

618-351-5087

On Twitter: @THefferman

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