Yates named SBC Preseason Player of the Year

Kanaskie also voted to All-SBC team

October 13, 2008 · MT Athletic Communications
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - This time last year Middle Tennessee's Desmond "Boogie" Yates wasn't even on the preseason All-SBC third team.

He evidently gained a great deal of respect from the league's coaches in a one-year span because they voted the Blue Raider junior forward the Sun Belt's Preseason Player of the Year after a breakout sophomore campaign that saw him earn first-team All-SBC honors and help lead Middle Tennessee to the conference tournament championship game.

If Yates remembers what got him to this point Middle Tennessee coach Kermit Davis believes his talented frontcourt performer who presents major mismatch problems for opponents can have another sensational season.

"Desmond and I have talked a lot about this that last year he was not on one preseason team and now he is the Preseason Player of the Year," Davis said. "How did he get there? He has done it with hard work but he has to understand it gets even tougher now because he has earned that respect. Boogie is sensational to coach, he works hard and he practices hard. He has put in an unbelievable amount of work since his freshman year. What he did the last 18 months with strength and conditioning has made him a better player and his hard work is paying off."

In addition to Yates being named Preseason Player of the Year and landing a subsequent spot on the All-SBC first team, senior guard Kevin Kanaskie also earned preseason honors when he was voted to the second team and is listed among the top 10 players in the Sun Belt.

"Kevin has a good talent and every coach that plays against him respects his talent, his toughness and how he plays the game," Davis said. "He is a coach's son and he has grown up around the game. He does things the right way. Kevin could leave Middle Tennessee as one of the best point guards in school history."

Both players are putting up numbers that have them among the best in program history.

Yates has scored double figures in 70 percent of 60 career games and with 860 career points he is on pace to become the 28th player to enter the 1,000-point club during his junior season. His career field goal percentage of .558 is ninth all-time and his 3-point percentage of .433 is third all-time, demonstrating the ability score around the basket, knock down mid-range jumpers and shoot for a high percentage beyond the 3-point line.

Yates said the preseason recognition is appreciated but added it would not affect his approach to the upcoming season. He said the expectations can not exceed those he has of himself.

"I embrace the expectations," Yates said. "Coach has high expectations of me but I have more expectations of myself so I embrace everything. It doesn't change the way I prepare for games. I still work the same way I did last year, just a little harder. I embrace all the expectations for me and for this team."

Kanaskie has put together one of the most complete careers of any Blue Raider and he has cemented himself as one of the program's top playmakers as a three-year starter. He enters his senior year fourth all-time at Middle Tennessee in assists (365), fifth all-time in 3-point field goals made (145), ninth all-time for free-throw percentage (.796), and he is on pace to enter the 1,000-point club with 873 career points.

"I think I've made good progress (in my career)," Kanaskie said. "I just want to win conference and hopefully we will be able to do that. I like (the make of this year's team). We have some work to do. I think the new guys fit in pretty well and we have some experienced guys that have been here for four years. I really like our team."

All-SBC Preseason Team
First Team
Carlos Monroe, FAU
Russell Hicks, FIU
Desmond Yates, MT
Josh White, NT
Brandon Davis, USA

Second team
Tony Hooper, ULM
Kevin Kanaskie, MT
Collin Dennis, NT
Domonic Tilford, USA
Jeremy Evans, WKU

Third team
Steven Moore, UALR
Paul Graham III, FAU
Chris Gradnigo, ULL
Kyndall Dykes, UNO
A.J. Slaughter, WKU

Player of the Year
Desmond Yates (MT, Jr., F)

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