Oct. 23, 2002

NORMAN, Okla. - Returning four starters and eight letterwinners from last year's 31-5 Final Four squad, the Oklahoma men's basketball team was picked to finish second in the Big 12 this season in a poll of the league's coaches released today. The Sooners, who were voted the conference's top team by three head coaches, totaled 113 points in the poll. Kansas was the top choice with 116 points and seven first-place votes. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.

OU senior guard Hollis Price, one of five players on the coaches' preseason All-Big 12 Team, was named the coaches' preseason player of the year. The 6-1, 170-pounder is coming off a campaign that saw him average 16.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game. He also shot .382 from three-point territory and .838 from the free throw line. Price was a first-team All-Big 12 selection last season before earning Big 12 Tournament and NCAA West Regional MVP honors. The New Orleans native was also a third-team All-American by The Sporting News.

Fellow Sooner senior guard Ebi Ere also received votes for the preseason All-Big 12 Team while freshman forward Kevin Bookout received votes for preseason freshman-of-the-year honors.

Oklahoma plays its first exhibition game Saturday, Nov. 9 against Global Sports at 7 p.m. at Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners begin their regular season Thursday, Nov. 14 against reigning SEC champ Alabama at 8:15 p.m. (CST) inside New York's Madison Square Garden.

2002-03 Big 12 Men's Basketball
Preseason Coaches Poll

Team                 Points
1. Kansas (7)         116
2. Oklahoma (3)       113
3. Texas (2)          103
4. Missouri            86
5. Texas Tech          77
6. Oklahoma State      76
7. Iowa State          54
8. Baylor              47
9. Colorado            43
10. Nebraska           36
11. Kansas State       22
12. Texas A&M          19

First-place votes in (parentheses)

2002-03 Big 12 Preseason Coaches All-Big 12 Team
Nick Collison, F, Sr., Kansas
Andre Emmett, F, Jr., Texas Tech
T.J. Ford, G, So., Texas
Kirk Hinrich, G, Sr., Kansas
Hollis Price, G, Sr., Oklahoma

Others receiving votes: Ebi Ere, G, Sr., Oklahoma; David Harrison, C, So., Colorado; Ivan McFarlin, F, Jr., Oklahoma State; Rickey Paulding, G, Jr., Missouri; Stephane Pelle, F, Sr., Colorado; James Thomas, F, Jr., Texas

Preseason Player of the Year:
Hollis Price, G, Sr., Oklahoma

Preseason Newcomer of the Year:
Nate Johnson, G, Jr., Nebraska

Preseason Freshman of the Year:
Antoine Wright, G/F, Fr., Texas A&M