from the East Carolina Athletics website:/CLICK HERE for photos…
GREENVILLE, N.C. – Lashonda Monk(Southwest Guilford High School), the reigning AAC Defensive Player of the Year, picked up another honor as she was named to the Preseason All-Conference First Team after a vote by the league’s head coaches, the conference announced Wednesday.
“I’m really excited for Lashonda,” said head coach Kim McNeill. “I thought last year, her play on both sides of the floor proved that she was one of the best guards in this conference and obviously the rest of the coaches recognized that.”
Monk is coming off one of the finest seasons in East Carolina history. She set a Pirate record with 125 steals, finishing third in the NCAA. Her role in spearheading the ECU defense that grabbed a school-record 407 takeaways helped her become the first ECU and the first non-UConn player to earn the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award.
The Greensboro, N.C., native led the Pirates in scoring each of the past two seasons, averaging a career-high 14.9 points a season ago. She also finished in the top-10 of the conference in assists, handing out 109 helpers and free throw percentage, shooting 76.1% from the charity stripe.
Monk is the third Pirate to be named to the AAC Preseason All-Conference Teams, joining Jada Payne and I’Tiana Taylor. Payne was named Second-Team in both 2014 and 2015 while Taylor was named to the Second-Team in 2015 as well.
“Ever since we got here, I obviously saw her talent,” McNeill added. “On the court, we’ve really just been working on her mental aspect of the game and not allowing things to affect her as much. Because as a point guard, you obviously have to have huge shoulders. When things go right, people praise you. When things go wrong, it’s the point guard’s fault. So, we’ve really been focusing on that aspect. I’ve seen strides in her to get better. We’re just challenging her every single day to get better with that and she’s accepted the challenge.”
Along with the Preseason All-Conference teams, the AAC Coaches’ Poll was announced. Topping the poll for the first time was USF. UCF and Cincinnati each received at least one first place vote, finishing second and fourth in the poll while Tulane slotted in third. Temple, Wichita State, Houston and Memphis rounded out the top-eight while the Pirates were chosen ninth. SMU took tenth with Tulsa closing out the poll in 11th.
Cincinnati’s Ilmar’I Thomas and Temple’s Mia Davis were named co-Preseason Players of the Year. Monk, Thomas and Davis were joined by UCF’s Brittney Smith and Tulane’s Krystal Freeman on the AAC Preseason First Team.
2020-21 American Athletic Conference
Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
Team (First Place Votes) Points 1. USF (8) 98 2. UCF (1) 79 3. Tulane 78 4. Cincinnati (2) 73 5. Temple 57 6. Wichita State 54 7. Houston 49 8. Memphis 40 9. East Carolina 36 10. SMU 31 11. Tulsa 10