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Aggies, Carroll pegged as best in WAC

In terms of personal accolades, Utah State's Jaycee Carroll has been climbing a ladder.

He was named the Big West Conference Freshman of the Year in 2005. One year later he was named to the Western Athletic Conference second team, while last year, he was named to the WAC first team.

Wednesday, the 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior was named the WAC Preseason Player of the Year by the media and the coaches. Only time will tell if he'll live up to it.

"It's a compliment to Jaycee individually that after being first team All-WAC that they're looking at him as potentially the player of the year," Utah State coach Stew Morrill said. "He needs to feel good about it. We need to feel good about it and then we need to try and make it happen. That's the big if."

Carroll, who was named an honorable mention All-American last year, led the WAC in scoring and finished 10th in the nation at 21.3 points a game while shooting 43.2 percent from the 3-point line and 88.8 percent from the free-throw line.

"It's flattering and exciting to hear things like that and see that people have expectations of what you might be able to accomplish," Carroll said.

"It's something that's earned without doing anything in the season yet. I'm more interested right now in how they have our team ranked and spending most of my energy getting ready as a team right now."

Carroll enters the season seventh all-time in scoring with 1,737 career points. He needs just 391 more to break Greg Grant's school record of 2,127 points. If he maintains a 21.3 average he will break the record at home on Jan. 12 against New Mexico State.

"I think it (the preseason award) speaks to the kind of career he has had. I think it's a compliment," Morrill said.

As a team, the Aggies were selected by the coaches to win the WAC, while the media tabbed the Aggies second.

In the coaches' poll, the Aggies garnered four first-place votes, while second-place New Mexico State had three. Nevada, which had won the league the last three years, was tabbed third while Fresno State and Boise State rounded out the top 5.

"I downplay these preseason predictions, but it's a compliment to our program that in our third year in the WAC we're picked right at the top," Morrill said.

The Aggies went to the tournament championship game in both of their first two seasons in the league and they finished second both times to Nevada and New Mexico State, respectively.

In the media poll, New Mexico State (13) was first followed by Utah State (10) and Nevada (7). Fresno State and Boise State were selected fourth and fifth, respectively.

Hawaii, under first-year coach Bob Nash, was selected sixth in both polls, while Louisiana Tech, which is now coached by former Utah assistant Kerry Rupp and Karl Malone, was selected seventh in both polls. San Jose State tied for seventh in one poll and was eighth in another. Idaho was ninth in both polls.

The Utah State women were selected seventh in both polls.

"It's not where they pick you in the preseason poll, it's where you finish," Utah State women's coach Raegan Pebley said. "We want to exceed those expectations and if we want to stay true to our goal of getting better then we need to do better than seventh."

Utah State guard Taylor Richards was selected to the preseason second team.

"I'm excited for Taylor," Pebley said. "She's a humble person, and I don't think it's something she's going to think a lot about. She's got the team's goals as a priority over her goals and accolades."

Both teams begin practice on Friday.


E-mail: jhinton@desnews.com