Butler guard A. J. Graves has been selected as the Preseason Player of the Year in the Horizon League by a vote of league coaches, media and sports information directors. The Butler senior headlined the 10-player Preseason All-Horizon League Team released by the League office on Thursday, Oct. 11.
Graves, the only unanimous pick, was one of two Butler players named first team on the preseason squad. Also picked to the first team was Butler senior guard Mike Green. Filling out the first team were senior guard Brandon Cotton of Detroit, senior guard Avery Smith of UW-Milwaukee and junior forward Mike Schachtner of Green Bay.
Named to the preseason All-League second team were senior forward Paige Paulsen of UW-Milwaukee, junior guard J. R. Blount of Loyola, junior forward J'Nathan Bullock of Cleveland State, junior guard Josh Mayo of UIC and sophomore guard Vaughn Duggins of Wright State.
Graves and Green, who were cited as the 14th-best backcourt in the nation by SI.com, helped Butler to a school and Horizon League record 29-7 campaign in 2006-07. The Bulldogs won the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden in New York, tied for the Horizon League regular season championship and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. Butler was ranked in the "Top 25" of the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today national polls for a school and league record 16 consecutive weeks, including an appearance in the "Top 10" on Feb. 5.
Graves earned honorable mention All-America recognition a year ago, while leading the Bulldogs in scoring with a 16.9 average. He finished second in the NCAA Division I in free throw shooting with a .948 mark, and he led the Horizon League with 98 three-point field goals. The 6-1 guard, who was named MVP of the NIT Season Tip-Off, scored in double-figures in 32 of 35 games last season and tallied 20 or more points 13 times. Graves was a first team All-League pick a year ago.
Green, who was named Horizon League Newcomer of the Year in 2006-07, led the Bulldogs in rebounding (6.0) and assists (4.00), while finishing second on the squad in scoring (13.9). He set a Butler single season record for free throws made (196), while starting all 36 games. The 6-0 point-guard was a second team All-League choice last season.
Butler, tabbed as the preseason favorite in the Horizon League by coaches, media and sports information directors, begins preseason practice for the 2007-08 season on Friday, Oct. 12. The Bulldogs will play exhibition contests at home against St. Joseph's on Nov. 1, and against Marian on Nov. 3. The regular season opener will be at Ball State on Nov. 9.