Lady Tigers 10th in preseason ACC balloting; Jonquel Jones among top newcomers

Duke is the preseason choice to win 2012-13 women's basketball title

Grand Marshal and Clemson head women's basketball coach Itoro Coleman rides with her daughter, Jada, in Clemson's annual First Friday parade.

Mark Crammer Independent Mail

Photo by Mark Crammer

Grand Marshal and Clemson head women's basketball coach Itoro Coleman rides with her daughter, Jada, in Clemson's annual First Friday parade. Mark Crammer Independent Mail

Duke has been named the Atlantic Coast Conference women’s basketball preseason favorite in both a vote of the league’s 47-member Blue Ribbon Panel and its 12 head coaches.

The Blue Devils, who return four starters from last season’s team that finished 27-6 and reached the Elite Eight of the 2012 NCAA Championship, received 29 first-place votes from the Blue Ribbon Panel. Defending conference champion Maryland was listed first on the remaining 18 ballots.

Duke received nine first-place votes from the Blue Ribbon Panel, with Maryland picking up the remaining three.

The Blue Ribbon panel ranked Georgia Tech third, followed by Virginia, North Carolina and Miami. Florida State was voted seventh, followed by NC State, Wake Forest, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Boston College.

Georgia Tech also placed third in the coaches’ voting, followed by North Carolina and Miami. Florida State and Virginia tied for sixth. NC State placed eighth, followed by NC State, Wake Forest, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Boston College.

Reigning ACC Player of the Year Alyssa Thomas of Maryland was predicted to be a repeat winner in 2012-13 in the Blue Ribbon Panel vote.

Thomas capped off a stellar sophomore season by being named a WBCA Division I Coaches' All-American and a First Team Associated Press All-American. She led the ACC in scoring with 17.2 points per game - the second-best average among all Maryland sophomores. She finished the year among the best in the league with 8.0 rebounds per game, assists (3.2), free throw percentage (80.1) and defensive rebounds (5.5).

Thomas was joined on the Blue Ribbon Panel Preseason All-ACC Team by Georgia Tech’s Tyaunna Marshall, Florida State’s Natasha Howard, Maryland’s Tianna Hawkins and Laurin Mincy, Miami’s Stefani Yderstrom, NC State’s Marissa Kastanek and Virginia’s Ataira Franklin.

Those same 10 players were named to the Coaches’ Preseason All-ACC Team, which named Maryland’s Thomas and Duke’s Gray and Williams as the Preseason ACC Tri-Players of the Year.

Gray is coming off a sophomore season in which she averaged 12.5 points, 6.1 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 2.8 steals. She ranked 12th nationally in assists and 29th in steals. The 5-11 playmaker elevated her game even more in the NCAA Tournament averaging 16.0 points, 6.0 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 3.8 steals as she was named to the Fresno Regional All-Tournament team.

Williams is coming off a rookie campaign in which she was named the consensus National Freshman of the Year in 2011-12. The 6-3 center averaged 14.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, 1.6 assists and 1.5 steals a year ago, while earning ESPN.com, USBWA and Full Court Freshman of the Year accolades.

Both the ACC coaches and Blue Ribbon Panel voted Clemson’s Jonqeul Jones, Duke’s Alexis Jones, Maryland’s Malina Howard, North Carolina’s Xylina McDaniel and Virginia Tech’s Uju Ugoka to their respective Newcomer Watch Lists for the 2012-13 season.

Blue Ribbon Panel Preseason Poll

1. Duke (29)

2. Maryland (18)

3. Georgia Tech

4. Virginia

5. North Carolina

6. Miami

7. Florida State

8. NC State

9. Wake Forest

10. Clemson

11. Virginia Tech

12. Boston College

Blue Ribbon Panel Preseason All-ACC Team

Alyssa Thomas - Maryland

Elizabeth Williams - Duke

Chelsea Gray - Duke

Tyaunna Marshall - Georgia Tech

Natasha Howard - Florida State

Tianna Hawkins - Maryland

Laurin Mincy - Maryland

Ataira Franklin - Virginia

Marissa Kastanek - NC State

Stefanie Yderstrom - Miami

Blue Ribbon Panel Preseason Player of the Year

Alyssa Thomas - Maryland

Blue Ribbon Panel Newcomer Watch List

Jonquel Jones – Clemson

Alexis Jones – Duke

Malina Howard – Maryland

Xylina McDaniel – North Carolina

Uju Ugoka – Virginia Tech

Preseason Coaches ACC Poll

1. Duke (9)

2. Maryland (3)

3. Georgia Tech

4. North Carolina

5. Miami

6. Florida State

6. Virginia

8. NC State

9. Wake Forest

10. Clemson

11. Virginia Tech

12. Boston College

Preseason Coaches All-ACC Team

Alyssa Thomas - Maryland

Elizabeth Williams - Duke

Chelsea Gray - Duke

Tyaunna Marshall - Georgia Tech

Natasha Howard - Florida State

Tianna Hawkins - Maryland

Laurin Mincy - Maryland

Ataira Franklin - Virginia

Marissa Kastanek - NC State

Stefanie Yderstrom - Miami

Preseason Coaches Players of the Year (3-way tie)

Alyssa Thomas - Maryland

Elizabeth Williams - Duke

Chelsea Gray - Duke

Preseason Coaches Newcomer Watch List

Jonquel Jones – Clemson

Alexis Jones – Duke

Malina Howard – Maryland

Xylina McDaniel – North Carolina

Uju Ugoka – Virginia Tech

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