The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team has been chosen to win the Horizon League this year in preseason polling of the league’s coaches, SIDs and selected media members, while senior Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington) has been named the league’s Preseason Player of the Year. In addition, senior Shane Hammink (Millingen aan de Rijn, Netherlands/Oakley College [LSU]) joined Peters as a preseason All-League selection, earning a spot on the preseason Second Team.
Coming off of back-to-back regular season league titles and a school-record 30 wins last season, the Crusaders were near-unanimous choices to win the Horizon League in 2016-17, as Matt Lottich’s squad received 35 of the 39 first-place votes. The Crusaders totaled 385 points to outpace Oakland (two first-place votes, 337 points) and Green Bay (two first-place votes, 309 points) at the top of the poll.
Peters earned Preseason Player of the Year accolades as he enters his final season looking to cap an already remarkable career. The senior, who has received preseason All-American honors from a multitude of publications this fall, was an AP Honorable Mention All-American as a junior, averaging 18.4 points and 8.5 rebounds per game as the Crusaders advanced to the NIT championship game. He ended the campaign second in a single season in program history in scoring and fifth in rebounding, and enters his final year at Valpo fourth on the Crusader career charts in scoring and seventh in rebounding – on pace to break the program’s career marks in both categories.
Hammink earned preseason Second Team All-League honors after contributing greatly to the Crusaders’ success last season in his first year at Valpo. Hammink ranked third on the team in scoring, averaging 8.9 points per game, and scored in double figures 17 times. The senior also handed out 61 assists, good for second among all Crusaders, and shot at a 50% clip from the floor. Hammink stood out in a number of big games last year for Valpo – he led the team with 15 points in its win at Oregon State, scored 18 points in the Crusaders’ second-round NIT win over Florida State, and registered 10 points, five assists, five blocked shots and three steals in the semifinal NIT victory against BYU.