Coming off their first appearance in the American Southwest Conference championship tournament since the 2014-15 season, the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets are projected to finish fifth out of six teams in the ASC West Division according to the preseason coaches and media poll released Wednesday.
Howard Payne, which is coming off an 11-15 season and 7-10 conference mark, received 26 points in the poll, two more than McMurry (9-16, 6-11). The top four teams from each division will advance to the ASC championship tournament Feb. 21-23 at the site of the East champion.
Sul Ross (22-7, 14-3) is the preseason West Division favorite with 10 first-place votes and 72 points, trailed by Mary Hardin-Baylor (17-9, 10-7) with two first-place votes and 65 points, Concordia (15-11, 9-8) with one first-place vote and 53 points and Hardin-Simmons (9-16, 7-10) with 34 points.
Yellow Jackets Shadd Cole, Thomas Bingham and Timothy Aguero were listed on the ASC West Players to Watch list.
In the ASC East, LeTourneau (24-5, 16-2) is the favorite with 10 first-place votes and 76 points trailed by UT-Dallas (19-8, 14-4) with three first-place votes and 71 points, East Texas Baptist (21-7, 13-5) with one first-place vote and 50 points, Louisiana College (6-17, 4-14) with 40 points, Ozarks (3-22, 1-17) with 25 points, and Belhaven (5-20, 3-15) with 22 points. UT-Tyler (17-9, 10-8) is moving up to NCAA Division II and is therefore ineligible for postseason consideration.
Howard Payne, under head coach Troy Drummond, opens the season Nov. 7 at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. After eight games on the road, the Yellow Jackets start the home portion of their schedule on Dec. 1 in the ASC opener against UT-Dallas.