MACON, Ga. (MERCER RELEASE) – The Mercer women's basketball team was picked to finish third in the Atlantic Sun Conference Preseason Coaches' poll while three Bears were selected on the 10-player A-Sun Preseason All-Conference squad released on Thursday afternoon by the league office.
Mercer was picked third by both the coaches and media, trailing only 2012-13 A-Sun Champion Stetson and Florida Gulf Coast, who was picked to win the league in both polls.
Senior Kendra Grant and juniors Briana Williams and Precious Bridges were selected to the Preseason All-Conference team giving Mercer a league-high three selections on the squad.
"I think being picked third this year in the preseason poll really is a credit to the overall direction our program is heading," head coach Susie Gardner said. "To be picked 8th and 10th the last two years and to jump up to third this year proves we are getting respect and heading in the right direction. In addition, having three players named to the Preseason All-Conference team proves to everyone that we have the ability to be able to recruit and develop quality players here at Mercer."
This is the third year in a row that Mercer has had a player named on the A-Sun Preseason All-Conference squad, with Ry'van Buchanan being named to the team last season and Williams receiving the honor as a sophomore prior to the 2011-12 campaign.
Grant, who was one of four unanimous selections to the team, made a triumphant return from a pair of significant knee surgeries to become one of the best scorers and long range shooters in the A-Sun Conference last season. Grant appeared in 32 games in 2012-13, including 31 starts, and ranked second on the team and seventh in the A-Sun averaging 13.0 points per game. The Macon, Ga. native was a force from beyond the arc, leading the team and ranking 13th in the A-Sun with 38 made three-pointers on her way to being named an A-Sun All-Conference first team performer.
Bridges took over the role of go-to scorer for the Bears in 2012-13 and evolved into one of the premier shot makers in the A-Sun Conference. Bridges won the Atlantic Sun Conference scoring title by averaging 16.8 points per game and poured in 20 or more points on 13 occasions. The West Palm Beach, Fla. native finished the season ranking seventh in Mercer single-season history with 597 field goals attempted and ninth with 113 free throws made on her way to joining Grant on the A-Sun All-Conference first team.
Williams looks to make a successful return from a knee injury of her own that robbed her of the entire 2012-13 campaign. When healthy, Williams is a dynamic offensive player who led the A-Sun Conference in scoring as both a freshman and sophomore. The McDonough, Ga. product has a career scoring average of 17.7 points per game and already has an A-Sun Conference Freshman of the Year award and a pair of A-Sun All-Conference second team honors under her belt entering her junior season.
FGCU senior Sarah Hansen was voted the A-Sun Conference Preseason Player of the Year while Stetson senior Sasha Sims was named the league's Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
Mercer begins its 2013-14 season on October 31 when it plays an exhibition game against Northwood (Fla.) in Hawkins Arena at 7 p.m.