UC San Diego’s 2019-20 men’s basketball team, ranked 5th in the nation. Photo credit: Mike McGinnis

The fifth-ranked UC San Diego men’s basketball team opens its 20th and final Division II season Friday, when the Tritons travel to Washington.

There they will take part in the California Collegiate Athletic Association/Great Northwest Athletic Conference Challenge. They play Simon Fraser at 5 p.m. Friday, and Western Washington at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

UCSD will face Saint Martin’s at 7 p.m. Monday to conclude the three-game trip.

This year’s squad returns four starters including redshirt senior All-American Chris Hansen, selected by NCAA.com as a preseason Player of the Year candidate.

Last year’s CCAA Player of the Year, Hansen averaged 14.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. In addition to Hansen, guards Tyrell Roberts and Mikey Howell, and forward Scott Everman return.

Roberts was last year’s CCAA Newcomer of the Year, averaging more than 14 points per game. Howell led the Tritons in assists and Everman contributed 9.5 points while finishing second on the team in blocked shots behind Hansen.

UC San Diego once again has been picked first in the CCAA Preseason Coaches Poll. The Tritons received 11 of 13 first-place votes from the league’s head coaches.

This marks the second straight season in which the team has been selected first in the survey.

The Tritons are ranked fifth in a preseason poll of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). Defending champion Northwest Missouri State took the top spot.

Last season, UC San Diego ranked 24th in the preseason. The Tritons posted a 26-8 record and captured the CCAA tournament title, ultimately making a run to the NCAA Division II West Regional semifinals.

UCSD hosts its home opener at 7 p.m. Nov. 19 vs. Point Loma Nazarene.

– Staff reports

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