SWAC Announces Ladies’ Preseason Hoop Honors

By SWAC Media Relations
Updated: November 2, 2008

2008 SWAC Basketball Tournament BIRMINGHAM — The SWAC announced its 2008 preseason women’s basketball honors last week, with Prairie View A&M’s Candice Thomas and Southern’s Freda Allen claiming top honors. The team was voted on by the schools’ coaches and sports information contacts.

Thomas, a 5-foot-8 junior guard from Waco, Tx., was named 2008-09 Preseason Player of the Year after leading the Lady Panthers to a regular-season title and a berth in the Women’s NIT. Thomas led the conference in scoring, averaging 15.7 points per contest, while finishing second in field-goal percentage (53.1%) and third in free throw percentage (74.3).

She also averaged 2.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.3 steals per game. Thomas scored in double figures in 30 of the Lady Panthers’ 34 games last season — including seven games with at least 20 points scored. She had 40 points, four rebounds and two assists at Texas State during the Women’s NIT. She had 23 points, four rebounds, three assists and four steals at Texas Southern.

The 2008-09 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, Allen — a 6-foor-1 sophomore forward from Lake Providence, La. — averaged 6.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.1 blocks per contest last season. She finished with 28 blocks, 59 steals while tallying 245 total rebounds.

She had four double-doubles last season and had 14 games with at least 10 rebounds and five games with at least 10 points. She had 13 points, 16 rebounds and a block versus Norfolk State while tallying 10 points, 17 rebounds, two steals and a block against the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

She led the conference in rebounding while finishing seventh in blocked shots and fourth in steals. Joining Thomas and Allen receiving first-team preseason honors were UAPB guard Arica Green (10.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.4 spg) Prairie View forward Gaati Werema (13.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.3 spg) and Alabama State center Shanice Merrit (4.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.1 bpg).

Receiving second-team honors were Southern guard Deidra Jackson (12.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.7 spg), Alabama A&M guard Katrick Williams (9.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg), Prairie View forward Chari Smith (10.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.8 bpg), Jackson State forward Erica Trahan (8.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.2 spg), and Mississippi Valley State center Michelle Massaga (6.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.3 bpg).

In the predicted order of finish, Prairie View A&M was chosen to win the conference after being named regular-season champions in 2008. The Lady Panthers finished with a 22-12 overall record and a 15-3 conference mark. Prairie View received 18 of 20 first-place votes en route to 196 total points.

Jackson State, the 2008 tournament champions, were tabbed second with 174 total points (one first-place vote) while Southern also received one first-place vote and 143 total points. Alabama A&M (129 pts) was chosen fourth while University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff (97 pts) was picked to finish fifth.

Rounding out the list were Alabama State (92 pts), Mississippi Valley State (91 pts), Alcorn State (66 pts), Grambling State (58 pts) and Texas Southern (54 pts).

Prairie View A&M had three players chosen for preseason honors – two on the first team. Southern had two players chosen while Alabama A&M, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Jackson State, Alabama State and Mississippi Valley State each had one athlete named.

Predicted Order of Finish

(first-place votes in parentheses)

Prairie View A&M (18)

196 pts

Jackson State (1)


Southern (1)


Alabama A&M


Univ. Arkansas-Pine Bluff


Alabama State


Mississippi Valley State


Alcorn State


Grambling State


Texas Southern