How Memphis basketball fared in the AAC's preseason coaches poll and which Tigers earned top honors

Jason Munz
Memphis Commercial Appeal

Memphis basketball's hype train continues to build a head of steam. 

The American Athletic Conference released its preseason coaches poll and all-conference honors Tuesday, and the Tigers were well represented. Penny Hardaway's team is picked to finish second behind Houston, which won the AAC tournament and reached the Final Four last season. The Cougars received eight (out of a possible 11) first-place votes, while the Tigers got the other three. 

Memphis also had four players land preseason all-AAC honors. No other team had more than one to collect preseason accolades.

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Jalen Duren, the Tigers' 6-11 center, was picked to win Rookie of the Year and scored preseason all-AAC first team honors. Duren is the third straight Memphis freshman to be voted preseason Rookie of the Year (James Wiseman and Moussa Cisse). The Tigers' Precious Achiuwa and Cisse each eventually took home AAC Rookie of the Year. 

Joining Duren on the first team is Landers Nolley II. The Memphis junior guard led the team in scoring last season (13.1 ppg), was all-AAC First Team in 2020-21 and was named Most Outstanding Player for his performance during the team's NIT championship run. 

Wichita State's Tyson Etienne (last season's co-AAC Player of the Year and this year's preseason pick to win the same award), SMU's Kendric Davis and Houston's Marcus Sasser round out the preseason all-AAC First Team. Davis and Sasser are the only unanimous selections. 

Emoni Bates, the Tigers' other anticipated freshman phenom, was tabbed for preseason second-team honors, as was Memphis senior forward DeAndre Williams. 

Bates, the 2020 Gatorade National Player of the Year, is a 6-9 wing who is expected to primarily line up at point guard for the Tigers this season. As a junior at Ypsi Prep (Michigan), Bates put 24.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game before reclassifying into the Class of 2021 and signing with Memphis. Bates and Duren headlined Hardaway's second No. 1 recruiting class in the last three years. 

In 21 games for Memphis last season, Williams was one of six players in the nation to average at least 11.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game.

Rounding out the second team are UCF's Brandon Mahan, Cincinnati's Jeremiah Davenport and Tulane's Jaylen Forbes. 

Memphis' first exhibition game is set for 4 p.m. Oct. 24 against LeMoyne-Owen. The Tigers also have an exhibition game against Lane College at 1 p.m. on Oct. 31. The first regular-season game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at FedExForum against Tennessee Tech. 

2021-22 AAC preseason coaches poll

1. Houston (8 first-place votes, 98 total points)

2. Memphis (3 first-place votes, 92 total points)

3. SMU (77)

4. Wichita State (76)

5. UCF (66)

6. Cincinnati (52)

7. Tulsa (43)

8. Temple (37)

9. USF (25)

10. Tulane (25)

11. East Carolina (14)

Preseason Player of the Year

Tyson Etienne, Jr., G, Wichita State

Preseason Rookie of the Year

Jalen Duren, Fr., C, Memphis

Preseason All-Conference First Team

Marcus Sasser, Jr., G, Houston

Jalen Duren, Fr., C, Memphis

Landers Nolley II, R-Jr., G, Memphis

Kendric Davis, Sr., G, SMU

Tyson Etienne, Jr., G, Wichita State

Preseason All-Conference Second Team

Brandon Mahan, Gr., G, UCF

Emoni Bates, Fr., F, Memphis

DeAndre Williams, Sr., F, Memphis

Jeremiah Davenport, Jr., G, Cincinnati

Jaylen Forbes, So., G, Tulane

Reach sports writer Jason Munz at jason.munz@commercialappeal.com or on Twitter @munzly.