UAPB comes up big on SWAC awards day
The 2017-18 All-SWAC Men's Basketball Team was revealed Monday by the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) after ballots were cast by the league's head coaches and sports information directors. Each member institution received one vote apiece.
The 2017-18 All-SWAC Teams were spearheaded by Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s Martaveous McKnight, who doubled as both the SWAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year.
The transfer from Itawamba Community College rose to prominence by averaging the second most points per game overall (18.5). The Walls, MS native was ranked seventh in field goal percentage (.453), fifth in assists per game (3.5), 14th in free throw percentage (.718), third in steals per game (2.0), ninth in 3-point field goal percentage (.366), sixth in 3-pointers made per game (1.9), fourth in assist to turnover ratio (1.3), and fourth in minutes played per game (33.5).
McKnight guided the Golden Lions to a 12-win season, a five-game improvement for the program from the previous season. He scored in double figures in 22 games and was a three-time SWAC Player of the Week award winner during the season.
Additionally, McKnight was voted on as an All-SWAC first team selection at guard.
The SWAC Defensive Player of the Year award was awarded to teammate Trent Steen of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The senior from Forest Hill, Ark. ranked third in blocks per game (1.4) and helped the Golden Lions to the second fewest points per game allowed (71.1). Additionally, the team ranked second in field goal percentage defense (.427), second in 3-point percentage defense (.324), first in blocks (4.3), and was first in steals per game (8.0).
The SWAC Freshman of the Year went to Alabama State’s Jacoby Ross, who ranked second on his team and 13th in the conference in points per contest (12.5), 12th in field goal percentage (.419), ninth in assists (2.3), fifth in free throw percentage (.795), fifth in 3-point percentage (.379), ninth in 3-pointers made per game (1.8). The New Orleans, La. native had 16 games with double digit scoring efforts.
The SWAC Coach of the Year award went to Grambling State first-year coach Donte’ Jackson, who guided the Tigers to their first regular season conference championship in 30 years, elevating their record to the most conference wins in program history (13).
Grambling State also held the longest win streak among conference members this season, carrying an 11-game winning streak from Jan. 8 through Feb. 17.
Prior to GSU, Jackson spent three seasons as the head men’s basketball coach at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Ala. where he led the team to the 2016 SIAC Championship and berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Rounding out the first team squad list were guards Ivy Smith Jr of Grambling State, forwards Zachary Hamilton of Prairie View A&M and forwards Dante Scott (Mississippi Valley State) and center Jared Sam of Southern.
Smith Jr. averaged 16.7 points per game, good for fourth in the conference, and led the SWAC in assists with 5.0 per contest. Hamilton was sixth in scoring (16.3 ppg) and led the SWAC in 3-pointers made per game (2.8).
Scott tied for the most points scored in a single game this season with a 41-point effort against Mississippi Valley State back on Jan. 20. Scott ranked ninth in scoring with 14.9 points per game. Sam totaled the most double-doubles in the conference with a league-high 14, most than double the total of any other individual player. Sam was fifth in scoring at 16.5 ppg and also led the conference in rebounding with 9.2 per game.
The second team includes: guards Gary Blackston (Prairie View A&M), A.J. Mosby (Alcorn State) and forwards Steen (Arkansas-Pine Bluff) and Shirmane Thomas (Grambling State) and and J.D. Wallace (Prairie View A&M) at the center position.
MEN’S BASKETBALL 2017-18 AWARD WINNERS (Selected by SWAC Head Basketball Coaches and SIDs)
Guard – Martaveous McKnight, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Guard – Ivy Smith Jr., Grambling State
Forward – Zachary Hamilton, Prairie View A&M
Forward – Dante Scott, Mississippi Valley State
Center – Jared Sam, Southern
Guard – Gary Blackston, Prairie View A&M
Guard – A.J. Mosby, Alcorn State
Forward – Trent Steen, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Forward – Shirmane Thomas, Grambling State
Center – J.D. Wallace, Prairie View A&M
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Martaveous McKnight, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Trent Steen, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Martaveous McKnight, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Jacoby Ross, Alabama State
COACH OF THE YEAR
Donte’ Jackson, Grambling State
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