Despite going 8-8 in conference play this season, the Western Kentucky men’s basketball team put multiple players on the All-Sun Belt Conference First Team, as announced today by the league office.
WKU seniors Steffphon Pettigrew and Sergio Kerusch joined Arkansas-Little Rock senior Solomon Bozeman, North Texas senior Tristan Thompson and Florida Atlantic sophomore Raymond Taylor on the first team.
The awards were voted on by league coaches and select members of the media.
“Anytime you have guys that are respected around the league and receive accolades, it says a lot about them and their teammates,” WKU coach Ken McDonald said. “It means something to all these guys, and we’ve had a long list of guys (on those lists). I’m happy and I hope we can get more guys motivated to make the All-Tournament team this weekend.”
Kerusch finished fourth in the league in scoring with 15.1 points per game, and was fifth in the Sun Belt in rebounding with 7.7 boards per contest.
Pettigrew, meanwhile, ranked sixth in scoring with 14.4 points per game and 13th in rebounding with 5.9 boards per game.
“It’s a great honor for us. It shows how hard we worked this year and I’m glad to hear it, but it can’t carry into the Sun Belt Tournament,” Pettigrew said. “Sometimes people see this and it (goes to their head a little). We’ll look at it after we win the Sun Belt, then we can be happy about it.”
On the women’s side, two WKU players were honored with all-conference accolades, as senior forward Arnika Brown joined UALR senior forward Chastity Reed, Denver junior forward Kaetlyn Murdoch and the Middle Tennessee duo of freshman forward Ebony Rowe and senior guard Anne Marie Lanning on the first team.
Fellow WKU senior Amy McNear was named to the third team.
“It’s a great honor for two individuals that I think are well deserved,” WKU coach Mary Taylor Cowles said. “I’m very, very proud of both of them. It’s a nice honor for our program as well that for the ninth year in a row we’ve had at least two players selected to the all-conference team.”
Pettigrew and Kerusch were the only two Hilltoppers to earn all-conference honors, something that didn’t sit well with McDonald – who felt that senior Juan Pattillo (who averaged 13.3 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per game) also deserved a mention.
“I really hope he uses this as motivation come tournament time,” McDonald said. “He had a lot of double-doubles and had a really good stretch when we were struggling and was pretty consistent. Hopefully, he uses this and comes on a tear come tournament time.”
Bozeman, who finished second in the league in scoring, was voted as the Sun Belt Player of the Year, while FAU coach Mike Jarvis was named Coach of the Year. FAU senior forward Brett Royster was named the SBC Defensive Player of the Year and South Alabama freshman center Augustine Rubit earned the Freshman of the Year honor.
FAU led the league with three all-conference performers, as sophomore guard Greg Gantt (second team) and Royster (third team) joined Taylor.
Arkansas State put junior forward Martavius Adams on the second team and senior guard Donald Boone on the third team. Louisiana-Lafayette was the only other squad with multiple all-conference mentions, as freshman forward J.J. Thomas was named to the second team, while senior forward Travis Bureau was honored as a third-team player.
Denver sophomore guard Chase Hallam and Middle Tennessee senior guard James Washington rounded out the second team, while Rubit and Troy sophomore guard Will Weathers finished out the third team.
On the women’s side, Reed was named Player of the Year, while UALR teammate Shanika Butler was honored as the Defensive Player of the Year. Rowe earned Freshman of the Year honors and UALR coach Joe Foley was named Coach of the Year.
Denver led the women’s side with three mentions, as senior guard Britteni Rice and senior forward Brianna Culberson were named to the second team, with Murdoch on the first team. Butler, FIU freshman guard Jerica Coley and Louisiana-Lafayette junior forward Mercedes Johnson rounded out the second team. Arkansas State senior forward Shay Scott, North Texas senior guard Denetra Kellum, Troy senior forward Donette McNair and South Alabama senior forward Christian Shelter joined McNear on the third team.