Northern Iowa men's basketball held its media day just two days ago, and we heard what Head Coach Ben Jacobson and his players think of their team.

Today, the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) released the preseason rankings and all-conference honors, sharing their thoughts on the Panthers as well as the remainder of the other teams in the Valley.

After winning the regular season title in 2022 and having a significant shakeup in their roster, UNI is picked to finish fifth in league play this season.

Drake is the favorite, as they return a large portion of their roster from last season. The rankings -- determined by coaches, media members, and SIDs around the MVC -- are listed as follows, including overall votes and first-place votes:

  1. Drake (52) 646
  2. Bradley (1) 542
  3. Southern Illinois (1) 537
  4. Missouri State 418
  5. UNI 416
  6. Belmont 388
  7. Indiana State 344
  8. Murray State 324
  9. Valparaiso 234
  10. Illinois State 186
  11. UIC 109
  12. Evansville 68

Bowen Born is picked to finish on the MVC All-Conference Second-Team, while Austin Phyfe, despite his health concerns, is tabbed to earn a third-team all-conference selection.

Born is coming off winning the Sixth Man of The Year award in the conference in 2021 while taking home the 2020 Freshman of the Year award. Last season, he averaged 7.4 points per game, shot 44.2 percent from the field, and 33.7 percent from deep. He's also the Panthers' returning assist leader, having dished out 56 in 2021.

Phyfe is coming off a season where he received limited minutes due to long-haul COVID issues that affected his conditioning. In his 12.1 minutes per contest, Phyfe put up 5.4 points and grabbed 2.2 rebounds per game. He shot 53.4 percent from the field.

In his last fully healthy season of 2020, Phyfe earned a spot on the MVC third team after scoring 12.4 points and grabbing 7.3 rebounds per contest. He also finished on the MVC first team as a red-shirt sophomore in 2019, averaging 11.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per contest.

Sophomore forward from Drake, Tucker DeVries is picked to be the conference player of the year this season. The remainder of the preseason all-conference selections are tagged below:


Tucker DeVries, Drake
Marcus Domask, Southern Illinois
Ben Krikke, Valparaiso
Rienk Mast, Bradley
Roman Penn, Drake
Ben Sheppard, Belmont


Bowen Born, UNI
Donovan Clay, Missouri State
Lance Jones, Southern Illinois
Cooper Neese, Indiana State
Garrett Sturtz, Drake


Cameron Henry, Indiana State
Kobe King, Valparaiso
Rob Perry, Murray State
Austin Phyfe, UNI
D.J. Wilkins, Drake

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