NEW ORLEANS — For the second consecutive season, Louisiana-Lafayette women’s basketball players Keke Veal and Kia Wilridge were both named to the preseason All-Sun Belt Conference team. The Cajuns were predicted to finish fourth in the Sun Belt coaches’ poll, garnering 95 points with one first-place vote.
“We are steadily improving and earning respect from the league,” coach Garry Brodhead said. “It’s not always about how you start, but how you finish. We have worked hard to build our program and earn recognition to make our way to the top of the Sun Belt Conference.”
Veal, a native of Opelousas, earned All-SBC preseason honors for the third straight season but this is her first year on the preseason first team. Last season, she paced the Cajuns offense with an average of 14.9 points per game.
For Wilridge, it is the second consecutive preseason All-SBC second-team honor. The Crowley native averaged 12.3 points per game last season and was a pillar on the defense, becoming the first Cajun to record at least 100 steals in a season since Kim Perrot during the 1989-90 campaign. She was also tied for the second-most blocked shots on the defense with seven.
Arkansas State, the 2015 SBC tournament runners-up, was picked to win in the conference, receiving 113 points in the poll to go with six first-place votes.
The Cajuns return nine letterwinners, including five starters. They open the 2015-16 season with an exhibition matchup against LSU-Alexandria at 5 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Cajundome. They tip-off the regular season is 7 p.m. Nov. 15 at Ole Miss.
Predicted order of finish
(first-place votes in parentheses)
1. Arkansas State (6), 113 points; 2. UT Arlington (1), 97; 3. Little Rock (2), 96; 4. UL Lafayette (1), 95; 5. Troy (1), 86; 6. Texas State, 66; 7. Georgia State, 57; 8. Appalachian State, 40; 9. UL-Monroe, 38; 10. South Alabama, 26; 11. Georgia Southern, 12 pts
Aundrea Gamble (Arkansas State, Senior, G), Alexius Dawn (Little Rock, Senior, G), Keke Veal (UL-Lafayette, Senior, G) Rebekah VanDijk (UT-Arlington, Sophomore, C), Ashley Beverly Kelley (Troy, Senior, G)
Khadija Brown-Haywood (Arkansas State, Senior, F), Makeba Ponder (Georgia State, Soph., G), Shanity James (Little Rock, Senior, F) Kia Wilridge (UL Lafayette, Senior, G), Ayriel Anderson (Texas State, Senior, G)
Joi Jones (Appalachian State, Junior, G), Chyna Ellis (South Alabama, Sophomore, C), LaShanda Green (UT-Arlington, Senior, G), Cierra Johnson (UT-Arlington, Sophomore, G), Caitlyn Ramirez (Troy, Junior, F)
Preseason Student-Athlete of the Year
Aundrea Gamble (Arkansas State, RS-Senior, Guard)