NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Ohio Valley Conference announced its official predicted order of finish for the 2016-17 men’s basketball season today, as the University of Tennessee at Martin was picked to finish fourth in the league’s West division by the head coaches and sports information directors.
Announced at OVC Media Day at the Sheraton Music City, the Skyhawks received one first-place vote and 82 overall points, which was the seventh-highest total out of 12 OVC teams. Although Murray State was picked to win the West while receiving the most total points (131) and first-place votes (21) in the poll, it was Belmont (126 points, 16 first-place votes) who was predicted to win the East division and the overall OVC championship. The Bruins collected 16 of the 24 overall first-place votes.
Coming off its first-ever OVC West crown last season, UT Martin will look to continue its recent success under new head coach Anthony Stewart in 2016-17. Stewart took over the reins of the Skyhawk program exactly six months ago after serving as the associate head coach in the last two seasons. In that span, UT Martin piled up 41 victories (four of which came in the postseason) and made finished one game shy of the NCAA Tournament after advancing to the OVC Tournament championship for the first time in program history in 2015-16.
Stewart returns seven players who saw action last season, led by a strong core of five seniors. Included in that group is the Skyhawks’ lone returning starter Kedar Edwards and top returning scorer Jacolby Mobley. A 6-5, 200-pound forward, Edwards ranked sixth in the OVC in both rebounding (7.1 per game) and steals (1.5 per game) while the 6-0, 160-pound Mobley tossed in 10.8 points per outing on his way to being named the OVC’s Sixth Man of the Year by HoopsHD.com last season.
UT Martin will also look to receive a boost from nine newcomers in 2016-17, including a pair of Division-I transfers who will be eligible to play in a Skyhawk uniform for the first time this season. Seven of UT Martin’s new faces are juniors while a redshirt sophomore and one true freshman will vie for playing time this season.
A Blue vs. Orange intersquad scrimmage is set to take place on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. in the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center. Admission is free and all members of the public are invited to catch a sneak peek of the 2016-17 version of the Skyhawks. UT Martin then hosts Transylvania for an exhibition on Nov. 7 before the season-opener at Ole Miss on Nov. 11.