As Northwestern State's much-anticipated 2013-14 basketball season is about to tip off Friday night, the Demons are getting more preseason respect while senior forward DeQuan Hicks has been ranked among the nation's best players by two respected publications.
NSU, 23-9 last year while making its third NCAA Tournament appearance under coach Mike McConathy, has 12 returning letterwinners and has been chosen by the league's coaches as the Southland Conference preseason favorite. The Demons open at home Friday night against LeTourneau in the second game of a 5:30 doubleheader at Prather Coliseum beginning with the Lady Demons hosting Southern Arkansas.
The USA Today newspaper listed Hicks as one of 10 mid-major stars to watch in 2013-14, as the newspaper also released Tuesday its list of the game's top 50 players this season. The paper noted Hicks' 58 percent shooting aim and 14.0 scoring average despite playing just over half of each game last year in the Demons' 10-man rotation, as NSU led the nation in scoring during the regular season.
The Indianapolis Star tabbed Hicks, a 6-7 forward from Racine, Wis., and New Mexico Junior College, among 13 players who narrowly "missed the cut" on its list of Top 50 players in college basketball for the upcoming season.
Earlier USA Today joined the consensus of preseason predictions tagging the Demons as likely to again represent the Southland in the NCAA Tournament. Virtually every preseason publication, including the prestigious Blue Ribbon College Baskeball Yearbook, projects Northwestern to return to March Madness.
Four 2013-14 NSU opponents were also among USA Today's 68-team projected NCAA field: LSU, Memphis, Baylor and Louisiana Tech.
The Demons visit LSU next Saturday night, Nov. 16, a night after playing at Auburn. They will go to Louisiana Tech and Baylor next month.