IRVING, Texas – The East Carolina women’s basketball team has been picked to finish second in the American Athletic Conference as the Pirates look to defend their 2023 conference tournament championship.

Individually, Danae McNeal has been recognized as the league’s Preseason Player of the Year while she and Amiya Joyner were named to the Preseason First-Team All-Conference squad, the league announced Monday.
The Pirates picked up four first-place votes as they were projected to finish behind only South Florida in the vote conducted by the league’s coaches. The selection is a dramatic change from a season ago when the team was picked 11th overall, last place in the American Preseason Poll. The Pirates would go on to finish the regular season in third place and win the American Athletic Conference Tournament to earn an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
McNeal enters the season looking to expound upon an American Most Improved Player and Defensive Player of the Year campaign in 2022-23 in which the Swansea, S.C. native racked up the eighth most steals in the nation while torching the nets for 17.4 points per game. In addition to Preseason Player of the Year recognition, the senior guard was the only unanimous selection to the Preseason First-Team All-Conference squad.
With McNeal, Joyner made the Pirates the only team in the American with two players on the Preseason All-Conference teams as the reigning Freshman of the Year was tabbed First-Team as well. The Farmville product enters 2023-24 after a historic rookie campaign in which she broke countless records, including shattering the ECU freshman rebounding record with 300 boards while averaging a double-double in league play.
The Pirates open the season on Nov. 6 at Elon and will kick off league play at home on Jan. 2 as they host UTSA in Minges Coliseum.
Preseason Poll (First-Place Votes)
1. South Florida (10) – 166     
2. East Carolina (4) – 159     
3. Rice – 135     
4. SMU – 118     
5. Memphis – 115     
6. Tulane – 110     
7. Tulsa – 104     
8. UTSA – 75       
9. Temple – 72       
10. Charlotte – 62       
11. Wichita State – 53       
12. North Texas – 47       
13. UAB – 30       
14. Florida Atlantic – 28       
Preseason Honors
Preseason Player of the Year
Danae McNeal – East Carolina
Preseason All-Conference First Team
Amiya Joyner – East Carolina
Danae McNeal – East Carolina*
Madison Griggs – Memphis
Sammie Puisis – South Florida
Temira Poindexter – Tulsa
Preseason All-Conference Second Team
Dazia Lawrence – Charlotte
Aniya Hubbard – Florida Atlantic
Malia Fisher – Rice
Aleah Nelson – Temple
Jordyn Jenkins – UTSA
*Unanimous Selection