Bonnies Selected Unanimous Preseason A-10 Favorite

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team was selected as the unanimous favorite in the 2021-22 Atlantic 10 preseason poll, conference officials announced at A-10 Media Day Wednesday.

In addition, a pair of Bonnies were named to the preseason All-Conference First Team as seniors Kyle Lofton and Osun Osunniyi each received the honor. Lofton is a two-time First Team postseason all-conference pick while Osunniyi was the league’s Defensive Player of the Year and tournament Most Outstanding Player as a junior. Senior guard Jaren Holmes was picked to the preseason Second Team after also being named all-conference last year for the first time in his Bonnies career. Osunniyi also earned a spot on the preseason All-Defensive Team.

The reigning Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament champions, St. Bonaventure is a unanimous preseason conference favorite for the first time in program history and the first A-10 squad to be an unchallenged No. 1 pick in the preseason poll since VCU in 2014. Rhode Island was just one vote shy of a unanimous selection in 2017-18, when the lone outlying vote went to the second-ranked Bonnies. That season previously stood as the high-water mark for the program in a preseason poll during a time when the A-10 was not split into multiple divisions.

The Bonnies claimed all 28 first-place votes for 392 voter’s points, with Richmond second at 359 points. Saint Louis (325), VCU (288) and Dayton (274) round out the top-five. Davidson (260), Rhode Island (231), George Mason (158), UMass (147) and Saint Joseph’s (144) complete the top-10.

Lofton became the fifth player in program history to pick up postseason First Team All-Atlantic 10 honors in back-to-back years when he averaged over 14 points per game while standing third in the league at 5.4 assists per contest last season. He led the league in minutes (38.3 mpg) for the second consecutive year and has played in 94 percent of Bona’s minutes in the past two years.

He is also a member of the Bob Cousy Award Watch List as one of 20 candidates to be named the nation’s top point guard. The New Jersey native enters his senior season ranking 28th all-time in Bonnies career scoring with 1,230 points while also standing sixth in school history in assists with 428. His 2.18 career assist-to-turnover ratio also stands 12th among all active NCAA Division I players.

Osunniyi is a preseason First Team selection after being honored as the league’s top defensive player and Second Team All-Conference last March. He led the A-10 in blocks per game (2.8) last year while also ranking second in rebounding (9.3 rpg). He anchored the A-10’s top defense, a squad that ranked seventh in the nation by allowing just over 59 points per game during conference play. For the second consecutive year, he was the only A-10 player to rank among the league’s top-five in blocks, field goal percentage and rebounding.

Osunniyi enters the season ranking second among all active NCAA Division I players in career blocks per game (2.67), behind only Manny Bates of NC State (2.77). He currently ranks third in Bonnies history for career swats (211), with just Andrew Nicholson (244) and Caswell Cyrus (289) ahead. His 657 career rebounds (8.3 rpg average) also stand 18th in school history and he needs 261 points this season to reach 1,000 for his career which would make him the 25th player in Bonnies history with 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. Entering his senior year he also currently ranks first among all Bonnies players in career field goal percentage at .586 in 79 games. Second is Bob Lanier, who had a .576 field goal success rate in 75 career games.

A nominee for the Karim Abdul-Jabaar Watch List as one of 20 candidates to be named the country’s best center, Osunniyi has been on the league’s All-Defensive Team following each of his three collegiate seasons.

Bona’s duo is joined by Hyunjung Lee of Davidson, Jacob Gilyard and Grant Golden of Richmond as well as Javonte Perkins of Saint Louis on the preseason First Team.

Holmes enjoyed a breakout season in his second campaign with the Bonnies last year, ranking second on the team at 13.8 points per contest while averaging 5.3 rebounds.

He started all 21 games, averaging nearly 33 minutes per night, to receive All-A-10 accolades for the first time. During the regular season, he paced the league in long-range shooting by hitting 42 percent of his attempts from 3-point land. The Michigan native also received multiple awards for his success in the classroom, landing on the Atlantic 10 All-Academic, CoSIDA Academic All-Region and NABC Honors Court lists.

This is the first season the Bonnies have had three players named to the preseason All-Conference teams. Lofton and Osunniyi are also the first players to take preseason A-10 recognition in three straight seasons since Andrew Nicholson 2009-11, and the only two Bonnies to join him in that category.

The only Atlantic 10 program to score double-digit conference wins in seven consecutive seasons entering this year, the Bonnies have scored 83 league victories since the start of the 2014-15 campaign, behind only Dayton among all A-10 squads during that span. That success is reflected in the league’s preseason polls as the Bonnies have ranked fifth or better in five of the past six seasons. St. Bonaventure has lived up to those expectations: the Bonnies have not finished lower than their preseason poll selection since the 2012-13 campaign.

Tickets are currently available for all home games during the 2021-22 season by visiting GoBonnies.com/Tickets.


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