Women’s basketball team picked to finish second in Sun Belt Conference

Senior forward Kaitlyn Pratt (left) and senior guard Sharde' Collins (right) received preseason all-conference selections for the first times in their career.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock women’s basketball team was picked to finish second in the Sun Belt Conference in the Coaches’ Preseason Poll released by the league Oct. 18.

Little Rock earned 121 points in the poll, four points shy of first-place Troy University. Little Rock, however, earned the most first-place votes among all the teams in the league, picking up five first-place votes compared to Troy’s three and third-place University of Texas at Arlington’s three.

The Trojans were also well represented on the Sun Belt’s Preseason All-Conference teams. Senior forward Kaitlyn Pratt was named Preseason First Team All-Conference, and senior guard Sharde’ Collins was named Preseason Second Team All-Conference. Both players are receiving preseason all-conference selections for the first times in their career.

Pratt returns to the Trojans for her senior year in 2016-17 hoping to build on her impressive junior season. As a junior, Pratt played in all 33 games and started in 26, averaging nearly 30 minutes per game. She set new career highs in points and rebounds, averaging 9.5 points and 6.7 boards per game. She also had a career-high eight blocks and 22 assists.

Pratt shot 53.3 percent from the field, hitting 120 of her 255 attempts on the season. She is now second all-time in Trojan history with a career field goal percentage of .555. Pratt also ranks fourth in Little Rock history with 232 offensive rebounds and 2.5 offensive boards per game. Pratt scored in double figures in 16 games as a junior and had double-figure rebounding totals in seven games. She had five total double-doubles on the year.

After the departure of Taylor Gault following the 2014-15 season, Collins took over as the Trojans’ top-scoring guard in her junior year. Collins averaged 9.7 points per game and 3.4 rebounds per game – both career highs – while playing in a career-best 32.1 minutes per game. She was a starter in all but four games during the season and eclipsed 1,000 minutes in a year for the first time.

Collins was the Trojans’ most accurate 3-point shooter on the season, making 34.5 percent of her attempts from downtown. She was also placed on the Sun Belt’s All-Tournament team after scoring an average of 15 points in three tournament games. She scored in double figures 17 times during the year and reached 15 points on six occasions.

The Trojans’ season begins on November 11 with a contest against North Texas in the Jack Stephens Center as part of the Preseason WNIT. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m.

Season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online at this link.

2016-17 Sun Belt Conference Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Preseason Poll
First-place votes are listed in parentheses.

1. Troy (3) – 125 points
2. Little Rock (5) – 121 points
3. UT Arlington (3) – 118 points
4. South Alabama – 109 points
5. UL Lafayette – 101 points
6. Texas State – 81 points
7. Arkansas State – 80 points
8. Appalachian State (1) – 64 points
9. Georgia State – 52 points
10. Georgia Southern – 39 points
11. Coastal Carolina – 26 points
12. UL Monroe – 20 points

Preseason First Team All-Conference
Kaitlyn Pratt (Little Rock, Senior, Forward)
Angel McGowan (Georgia Southern, Senior, Guard)
Marquita Daniels (South Alabama, Junior, Guard)
Rebekah VanDijk (UT Arlington, Junior, Center)
Caitlyn Ramirez (Troy, Senior, Forward)

Preseason Second Team All-Conference
Madi Story (Appalachian State, Junior, Guard)
Sharde’ Collins (Little Rock, Senior, Guard)
Makeba Ponder (Georgia State, Junior, Guard)
Chyna Ellis (South Alabama, Junior, Center)
Cierra Johnson (UT Arlington, Junior, Guard)

Preseason Third Team All-Conference
Patrice Butler (Georgia Southern, Senior, Center)
Simone Fields (UL Lafayette, Junior, Forward)
Erin Peoples (Texas State, Senior, Guard)
Kaitlin Walla (Texas State, Junior, Guard)
ArJae’ Saunders (Troy, Senior, Guard)

Preseason Player of the Year
Rebekah VanDijk (UT Arlington, Junior, Center)

In the upper right photo, senior forward Kaitlyn Pratt (left) and senior guard Sharde’ Collins (right) received preseason all-conference selections for the first times in their career.

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