APSU Sports Information
Nashville, TN – Junior center Chris Horton, the shot-blocking specialist who was one of the Ohio Valley Conference’s most improved players a year ago, has been named to the league’s preseason all-conference team as voted by OVC coaches and sports information directors.That was announced at OVC’s annual basketball media day, Tuesday, at the Sheraton Music City Hotel. It also was announced the Governors have been selected fourth in the OVC West.
Murray State has been picked to win the division, followed by Southeast Missouri, SIU Edwardsville, the Govs, Eastern Illinois and UT Martin.
In the east, Belmont was picked to finish first, followed by Morehead State, defending OVC tourney champ Eastern Kentucky, Tennessee Tech, Jacksonville State and Tennessee State.
Murray State’s sophomore guard Cameron Payne was named the OVC Preseason Player of the Year.
The 6-8 Horton was OVC Freshman of the Year in 2012-13 after blocking 100 shots but became more than a defensive specialist a year ago. After averaging 8.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game as a freshman, Horton numbers improved dramatically to 13.2 points and 9.5 rebounds—that rebound number ranked 25th nationally. In fact, Horton also ranked 11th nationally in field-goal percentage (59.5 percent) and 11th in blocks (3.07 bpg).
“I think Chris has had an impact in our league, in particular on the defensive end with his shot-blocking and rebounding abilities,” APSU coach Dave Loos said. “The thing for him now is to understand it is more important to be picked (All-OVC) at the end (of the season) than it is at the beginning.
“He is terrific shot blocker, he rebounds well and I think he is improving offensively—Chris still has a ways to go there. He has continued to improve both on the court and in his growth off the court as well.”
That maturity was never more evident in his blocked shot totals a year ago. As a freshmen, Horton recorded 100 single-season blocks but frequently found himself on the bench with foul issues. A year ago, Horton had just eight fewer blocks but averaged nearly six minutes more played per game.
“When you are picked in the middle a lot of times it is because they don’t know exactly what to think of you,” Loos said. “I am sure there is a lot of truth in that this season. We have six new guys—I like our team. We have had a good preseason practice period so far.
“On the other hand, the league is good and our division is good so we will have to play it out to find out.”