Tuesday, February 28, 2017

OVC Announces All-Conference Teams and Awards, Bradds Repeats as Player of the Year

The Ohio Valley Conference has announced the league's all-conference teams and awards.

Belmont's Evan Bradds repeated as Player of the Year. Belmont head coach Rick Byrd is the Coach of the Year.

Here's a release from the league:

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. - Belmont senior Evan Bradds repeated as 2016-17 Ohio Valley Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Year after leading the Bruins to a 15-1 league record and second-straight OVC regular season championship, while Tennessee State senior Tahjere McCall repeated as Defensive Player of the Year after leading the Conference in steals for the second-consecutive season. In other voting conducted by league head coaches and sports information directors, Southeast Missouri's Denzel Mahoney was named OVC Freshman of the Year while Rick Byrd was tabbed OVC Coach of the Year for the third time in his career.

Bradds is the 14th player in OVC history to repeat as OVC Player of the Year and first since Murray State's Isaiah Canaan accomplished the feat in 2012 and 2013. He will finish his career as one of the top shooters in OVC history, as he enters this week with a career 67.4 field goal percentage, which is the best mark in OVC history and currently third in NCAA Division I history. He led all NCAA Division I players in field goal percentage in 2014-15 and 2015-16 and this season currently ranks eighth (64.1%) nationally after going 10-for-10 in his regular season finale against Tennessee State. Bradds also ranks 21st nationally in scoring (20.8 points/game) and 71st in rebounding (8.6/game). He is also only 40 points away from tying Ian Clark for Belmont's Division I career scoring record. Bradds scored in double figures in all but one game of the season (and in 95 of 126 career games), including netting a season-high 32 points in a road victory over Morehead State. The senior recorded seven double-doubles including registering a season-high 16 rebounds against Middle Tennessee. Bradds is one of 10 finalists nationally (and the only one not from a power conference) for the Julius Erving Award (given to the top small forward in the nation) as well as one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award. He has also been named a CoSIDA Academic All-District pick as he looks to repeat as an Academic All-American selection this season. Other Belmont players to have been named OVC Player of the Year include current Golden State Warrior Ian Clark (2012-13) and J.J. Mann (2013-14).

McCall is the third player to repeat as OVC Defensive Player of the Year, joining Morehead State All-America (and current Denver Nugget) Kenneth Faried (who won three-straight awards from 2009-11) and Eastern Kentucky guard Corey Walden (2014 and 2015). A season ago McCall sparked a Tennessee State team that improved from five to 20 wins as he established a new school single-season record with 72 steals. This season he broke that record and enters postseason play with 76 steals, despite missing three games due to injury. He currently ranks sixth nationally in steals/game (2.92) and has had three or more steals in 16 games this season. He also helped the Tigers lead the OVC and rank 43rd nationally in field goal percentage defense (40.9%). McCall has also taken over as the team's primary point guard and dished out 40 more assists than he did last year, currently ranking him 47th nationally in assists/game (5.1). He is also third on the TSU team with 4.9 rebounds/contest and had a pair of three-block games in 2016-17. McCall had a season-high six steals in the season-opener at UC Davis, a win that sparked the team to a 6-0 start to the season, the best start in the program's Division I history. He also pulled down 11 rebounds in a pair of games, both of which were TSU wins.

After easing his way into the season, Mahoney came along strong to help Southeast Missouri to a 9-7 Conference record, its first winning record in OVC play since 2011-12. He ranked second on the team in scoring (14.2 points/game), including scoring in double figures in 16 of the final 17 games of the season, and leading the team in scoring in nine of his last 12 contests. Overall Mahoney scored 20 or more points eight times, including netting a season-high 23 points at UT Martin (where he canned 12-of-12 free throws) and in a key road victory over Murray State (which eventually led to a season sweep of the Racers for the first time in 74 years). In all games this season Mahoney ranked 17th in the OVC scoring but increased that to 16.6 points/game in Conference games, a mark that was 10th in the league. Overall, he added 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists/game while hitting 45.4 percent from the field, 37.6 percent from 3-point range and 79.9 percent from the free throw line (13th in the OVC) in 31 games, all of which he started. Mahoney was named OVC Freshman of the Week five times during the season, all of which came in the final seven weeks of the regular season. He is the second Southeast Missouri player to be named OVC Freshman of the Year, joining Derek Winans who won the award in 2001-02.

For the third time Byrd was named OVC Coach of the Year, joining awards he earned in each 2012-13 and 2013-14. For his career he has been named the conference or district Coach of the Year 13 times. Picked to win the OVC in the preseason, Belmont compiled a 15-1 league record, which was five games better than second place. The Bruins won its fourth OVC regular season title in five years as a member of the OVC and earned the No. 1 seed for this week's OVC Tournament. Overall Belmont has won 20 or more games in 11 of the past 12 seasons. The team's 16 conference championships (both regular season and tournament) since 2006 are third most nationally behind only Kansas and Gonzaga. Now in his 31st season at Belmont (and 36th year overall), Byrd has 753 career victories, which ranks him sixth among active NCAA Division I coaches.

2016-17 All-OVC Basketball Teams and Awards

OVC Player of the Year: Evan Bradds, Belmont
OVC Defensive Player of the Year: Tahjere McCall, Tennessee State
OVC Freshman of the Year: Denzel Mahoney, Southeast Missouri
OVC Coach of the Year: Rick Byrd, Belmont

ALL-OVC FIRST TEAM

Evan Bradds, Belmont
Xavier Moon, Morehead State
Jonathan Stark, Murray States
Jacolby Mobley, UT Martin
Nick Mayo, Eastern Kentucky
Antonius Cleveland, Southeast Missouri
Tahjere McCall, Tennessee State
Josh Robinson, Austin Peay
Terrell Miller, Murray State
Austin Luke, Belmont

ALL-OVC SECOND TEAM

Wayne Martin, Tennessee State
DeJuan Marrero, Morehead State
Javier Martinez, UT Martin
Malcom Drumwright, Jacksonville State
Denzel Mahoney, Southeast Missouri

ALL-NEWCOMER TEAM

Jonathan Stark, Murray State
Denzel Mahoney, Southeast Missouri
Terrell Miller, Murray State
Asante Gist, Eastern Kentucky
Matthew Butler, UT Martin

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