November 5, 2022 

UNLV picked as Mountain West preseason favorites

UNLV gets two players on Preseason All-Conference Team; three New Mexico players earn preseason awards

Mountain West Conference teams are making their mark in preseason awards and watch lists for the 2022-23 season. The UNLV Lady Rebels, the defending Mountain West champions and the only MWC team to make it to the NCAA Tournament in 2022, are projected to claim the regular-season title once again.

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UNLV earned 26 of 28 first-place votes and 297 total points. The other two first-place votes were awarded to the New Mexico Lobos, who received 264 total points. Colorado State rounded out the top three with 232 points.

2022-23 preseason poll

  1. UNLV – 297 points (26 first-place votes)
  2. New Mexico – 264 (2)
  3. Colorado State – 232
  4. Wyoming – 207
  5. San Diego State – 200
  6. Nevada – 242
  7. Boise State – 140
  8. Air Force – 125
  9. Fresno State – 113
  10. San José State – 67
  11. Utah State – 61

2022-23 preseason awards

The Lady Rebels continued to dominate in the MWC Preseason All-Conference Awards. Desi-Rae Young, who averaged 15.2 points and 8.5 rebounds per game for UNLV last season, is predicted to earn MWC Player of the Year for the second year in a row. Joining Young on the MWC Preseason All-Conference Team is her teammate and 2022 Mountain West Tournament MVP Essence Booker. Booker, now a senior, led the Lady Rebels in scoring last season with 15.5 points per game.

The other three players on the MWC Preseason All-Conference Team were Shaiquel McGruder of New Mexico, McKenna Hofschild of Colorado State and Sophia Ramos of San Diego State.

Colorado State’s McKenna Hofschild drives to the basket in the 2022 Mountain West Championship title game against UNLV. The Rams fell to the Lady Rebels 75-65. (Photo credit: CSU Athletics)

Hofschild, a two-time All-Conference selection who led the MWC in assists last season, is heading into her third season with the Rams. She also was the second-leading scorer in the MWC last season and scored in double digits in 28 games. In addition to the MWC preseason honors, Hofschild was also one of 20 players named to the Nancy Lieberman Award Watch List for the nation’s best point guard and one of 25 players named to the Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year Preseason Watch List.

Joining Hofschild on the Becky Hammon Preseason Watch List is McGruder, a senior forward for New Mexico. McGruder, a MWC All-Conference and All-Defensive selection last season, averaged 14.2 points and 2.7 rebounds per game for the Lobos. She also led the MWC in field goal percentage in 2021-22.

McGruder wasn’t the only Lobo chosen in MWC preseason awards. Amaya Brown, an Albuquerque native who spent her first three years of eligibility at Florida State, was chosen as the MWC Preseason Newcomer of the Year. Brown was plagued with knee injuries during her time with the Seminoles, but the 5’11 guard showed promise during the 2021-22 season and looking back at her stellar high school career.

The last MWC preseason award for the Lobos, the Preseason Freshman of the Year, was awarded to former Arizona high school star Hannah Robbins. After a successful high school career at PHH Prep and averaging 20.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 2.7 blocks on her club team, Robbins chose to follow in her father’s footsteps by playing for the Lobos. The 6′ guard is already on the MWC’s radar heading into the season.

The final member of the MWC Preseason All-Conference Team is San Diego State senior guard Sophia Ramos. She was selected for the MW All-Conference Team after her sophomore season and was a MW All-Conference Honorable Mention last season, averaging 14.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.0 steals per game. With the help of both Ramos and 2022 MW All-Freshman Team member Asia Avinger, the Aztecs are projected to come in fifth in the Mountain West this season behind Wyoming.

Written by Rowan Schaberg

Rowan Schaberg (she/her) is a Seattle native covering the Seattle Storm for The Next. She is currently studying Sports Journalism at Colorado State University.

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