The USA South Athletic Conference has announced its 2017-18 All-Conference awards for men's basketball, as Head Coach Randy Lambert earned Coach of the Year, as four MC players earned honors.
Lambert, in his 38th season as the head of the Scots, collects his second USA South Coach of the Year honor. Maryville was picked to capture the League's West Division title in the preseason coaches poll and the team did just that.
"Well, it's always an honor to be selected by your peers," Lambert said. "This year, more than ever, we have had a staff that definitely has contributed in their own way. Raul Placeres is responsible for game preparation and the scouting reports, and he's done a wonderful job with it. Sean Jones helps us with the game preparation, and he concentrates on the tendencies of our opponents. Then, J.P. Burris, Derrick Crayton and our student assistants Josh Brooks and Will Winton – each of these guys have contributed in their own way."
The Scots finished with a 14-2 record which earned the program's second consecutive regular season title, this year of the divisional kind, and set a new USA South record for League wins in a single-season. Maryville now has earned three USA South regular season championships in the past five years. The Scots currently own a 20-6 overall record and head to the USA South Tournament semifinals as the host West Division top seed and host, as Lambert recorded his 19th career 20-win campaign.
"It's been a fun year," Lambert continued. "The players have responded to our coaching. Because of our balance, it has been a true team effort."
Maryville's Emier Bowman earned USA South All-Conference First Team accolades, as the junior has averaged 12.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. He's also added a flurry of high-flying dunks and blocks this season, as he earned a No. 7 spot on ESPN's Top 10 earlier this year.
For Lambert, however, it is more about this Forward being a complete player.
"I'm excited for Emier, and I think it's a very deserving award," the head coach said. "He's improved as much as any player that I've had, from one year to the next. He's gotten the point to where he takes his athleticism and the evolution of becoming a real basketball player. Before, he was just known for his jumping ability. Now, he has an impact on the game that no one else on our team can have. He's a great defender with his steals and blocks, and offensively, he can drive and score. He can knock down an open jump shot. He's got a complete game. I'm real happy for him, and I think it is a very deserving award."
Songster has had 13 points per game, while excelling beyond the arc with an almost 50-percent clip. He's added 2.5 assist per contest for Maryville, as the guard exclipsed the 900-point mark for his career on Tuesday night.
"Calvin has played very unselfishly," Lambert said. "He could be the leading scorer and average 20 for a lot of teams. For our team, he is our best perimeter shooter, but he also is our best passer. Several games, he has led our team in assists. He's also turned himself into a pretty good defender."
Hoppa also excelled for Maryville, as he averaged 31.0 minutes per game. He averaged 12.3 points per contest to go with 5.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists.
"I was hoping that Dante could slide into a second-team spot," Lambert said. "I think he deserves that kind of recognition. His ability to play more than one position has given us the luxury of keeping him on the floor. He plays more minutes than anybody on our team. He's very good at most of the fundamentals, and there's really no one thing that he just excels in. When we need him to score, he will score. When we need him to rebound, he will rebound. When we need him to play defense, he will lock it down. He's just been a great leader."
Maryville's Malcolm Walker was also honored as the Scots' All-Sportsmanship honoree.
"Malcolm has had a good year as a back-up five man," Lambert said. "When you think of Malcolm, you think, 'great teammate.' He's just always there as the vocal leader from the bench or from the floor. He excepts his role and tried to uplift the morale of our team."
Averett University's James Contreras, Jr. was named Player of the Year while his coach, and Berea College's Torell Carter earned Rookie of the Year honors. Finally, the USA South recognized an All-Sportsmanship Team consisting of one member from each competing school.
All awards are voted on by the men's basketball coach at each institution. The awards will be presented to individuals from teams competing in the semifinal round of the USA South Men's Basketball tournament immediately following the conclusion of the first semifinal contest.
Contreras, a Virginia Beach, Virginia senior guard, becomes the second consecutive Cougar to be named USA South Player of the Year as it was Charles Bryant who took home the honor last season. Contreras concluded the regular season as the League's second-leading scorer, averaging 23.2 points per contest, while compiling the most amount of points scored (581). Additionally, he led the Conference in minutes played (849), field goals made (193) and free throws made (178). Contreras contributed 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals for the Cougars per game. In League-only contests, he lead the Conference in scoring, averaging 23.9 points per game. For his efforts this season, Contreras earns his second consecutive first team all-conference honor as he also accumulated two USA South Player of the Week awards during the winter.
Carter, a Whitesburg, Kentucky freshman guard, becomes the first Mountaineer to be named USA South Rookie of the Year as the program is in its first year of Conference membership. He began his collegiate career with a bang as he notched a triple-double of 16 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists versus Spalding. Carter concluded the regular season leading all League rookies in scoring, averaging 16.5 points per game, and assists with 109, good for an average of 4.5 helpers per contest. He ranked in the top-ten in the League in several different categories including minutes (815), field goals made (149), free throws made (89), defensive rebounds (130), total rebounds (178) and steals (43). Finally, Carter was named USA South Player of the Week once and Rookie of the Week four times this season.
|Player of the Year||Rookie of the Year||Coach of the Year|
James Contreras, Jr.
The 2017-18 USA South Men's Basketball All-Conference Team:
|First Team||Second Team||Honorable Mention|
|Davion Ayabarreno, Methodist
Emier Bowman, Maryville
James Contreras Jr., Averett
Adrian Moore, N.C. Wesleyan
Justin Vallejo, Piedmont
|Alex Bonner, LaGrange
A.J. Frye, N.C. Wesleyan
Caleb Haynes, Covenant
Calvin Songster, Maryville
Jackson Whitley, Methodist
|Elijah Alston, Piedmont
Dante Hoppa, Maryville
Brandon McLean, Huntingdon
Robert Wilson, N.C. Wesleyan
|Brandon Baker, Averett
Gabe Hinton, Berea
Stevie Williams, Brevard
Berto Dryden, Covenant
RJ Turner, Ferrum
Demetrius Tilley, Greensboro
Wyatt Popovich, Huntingdon
Nate Rosetti, LaGrange
Malcolm Walker, Maryville
Dante Jackson, Methodist
Mitch Layton, N.C. Wesleyan
Brian Harper, Pfeiffer
Landry Assinesi, Piedmont
Maurice Canady, William Peace