St. Bonaventure first unanimous A-10 favorite in seven years

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St. Bonaventure celebrates A-10 championship at UD Arena on March 14, 2021

Dayton Flyers picked fifth in preseason poll

St. Bonaventure celebrated the Atlantic 10 Conference championship at UD Arena in March with five starters who returned to the team for the 2021-22 season, making it an easy pick for the top spot in the A-10 preseason poll.

The Bonnies, who ranked 23rd in the Associated Press preseason top 25, received all 28 first-place votes from the 14 A-10 head coaches and select media members Wednesday, making them the first team since Virginia Commonwealth in the 2014-15 season to be a unanimous preseason favorite. They topped the poll for the first time.

“It’s quite an honor,” said St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt during the league’s virtual media days, which will continue Thursday. “It’s a credit to our players, my staff, the administration. We’ve come a long way, and to be picked No. 1 in the preseason in such a great league with great coaches, great programs, great players, it’s a great honor and something we don’t take lightly.”

Richmond, which received five votes in the AP preseason poll, was picked to place second and was followed by Saint Louis and Virginia Commonwealth, last season’s runner-up. The Dayton Flyers, picked third the last two seasons, were picked to finish fifth.

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St. Bonaventure finished 16-5 last season and 11-4 in the A-10. It earned the No. 1 seed in the A-10 tournament, which started in Richmond, Va., and ended with the championship game at UD Arena, where they beat No. 2 seed VCU 74-65. The Bonnies then lost 76-61 to LSU in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

St. Bonaventure feature three preseason all-conference selections: Kyle Lofton; Osun Osunniyi; and Jaren Holmes. Those three players have scored 2,544 points at the college level.

The preseason favorite has not finished in the top five the last three seasons and has not won the regular-season title since 2018 (Rhode Island), though St. Bonaventure may have the best roster in Schmidt’s 15 seasons.

St. Bonaventure is the only A-10 program to record double-digit victories the last seven seasons in the A-10. Since the 2014-15 season, it has 83 league victories, trailing only Dayton (90).

“When we when we started this thing, the program was down and it was down a lot,” Schmidt said. “We wanted to just try to get our head above water the first couple years and and build this thing the right way by bringing in character kids, kids that that can graduate from St. Bonaventure and kids that love to play. My assistants have done a great job in finding kids under the radar — not the top 100 player. They’ve done a great job in evaluating talent.”

A-10 preseason poll: 1. St. Bonaventure (28 first-place votes), 392; 2. Richmond, 359 3. Saint Louis, 325; 4. VCU, 288; 5. Dayton, 274; 6. Davidson, 260; 7. Rhode Island, 231; 8. George Mason, 158; 9. Massachusetts, 147; 10. Saint Joseph’s, 144; 11. Duquesne, 129; 12. La Salle, 105; 13. George Washington, 96. 14. Fordham, 32.

All-Conference teams

First team: Hyunjung Lee, Davidson; Jacob Gilyard, Richmond; Grant Golden, Richmond; Osun Osunniyi, St. Bonaventure; Kyle Lofton, St. Bonaventure; Javonte Perkins, Saint Louis.

Second team: James Bishop, George Washington; Tyler Burton, Richmond; Jaren Holmes, St. Bonaventure; Taylor Funk, Saint Joseph’s; Jordan Hall, Saint Joseph’s; Vince Williams, VCU.

Third team: Luka Brajkovic, Davidson; Mustapha Amzil, Dayton; Toumani Camara, Dayton; Josh Oduro, George Mason; Jeremy Sheppard, Rhode Island; Yuri Collins, Saint Louis.

All-defensive team: Makhel Mitchell, Rhode Island; Jacob Gilyard, Richmond; Osun Osunniyi, St. Bonaventure; Yuri Collins, Saint Louis; Hason Ward, VCU.

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