WINTHROP, Mass. – The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's basketball team made history in many ways this week, from winning its first conference championship, to receiving a steady stream of awards as part of the 2019-20 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) All-Conference selections, released Monday by the conference's front office. The league's 12 head coaches vote to decide all major awards and all-league honors, and the Blue Jays were the benefactors among several of them.
For starters (no pun intended), sophomore point guard Jaecee Martin (Hartford, Conn.) was voted 2019-20 GNAC Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY). It marks the first DPOY honor in USJ basketball history, men's or women's. 'JC' is the third sophomore in GNAC basketball history to win the award, joining Jeremy Shannon of Emerson (2008) and Mike Rapoza of Anna Maria (2018). It was first awarded in the conference in 2007-08.
JC took the GNAC by storm from the moment he stepped on the floor, scoring a then career-high 26 points (10-12 FG) in a 76-63 win over Bates on December 19, his second career game. Martin would go on to lead the GNAC in assists per game at 7.7 per contest (he would lead the nation if he played enough games). No other player in the conference averaged more than five. He also led the conference at nearly three steals per game, often roaming off his man to deflect passes, and strip players who had little time to react to his unmatched quickness. Before JC's arrival, no player in men's basketball history had ever recorded more than eight assists in a game. JC has already had at least 12 assists in a game six times. His sensational play also earned him a spot on the All-GNAC First team, joining his wingman, sophomore guard Delshawn Jackson Jr. (Hartford, Conn.).
JC and 'DJ' are the first men's basketball players in school history to earn All-GNAC First Team honors, and the first basketball players men or women, at USJ since Edna Cammano did it in 2005-06. DJ finished in the top-five in the GNAC in scoring at 22 points per game, including a career-defining and school record 46 points to lead the Blue Jays to the GNAC Title. Junior forward Jordan Powell (Middletown, Conn.), who led the nation in field goal percentage in the latter portion of the season at nearly 71% from the floor, received second team honors. Powell was the Blue Jays' best rebounder, recording a record eight double-doubles in one season, his first with USJ.
From one Martin to another, freshman guard Taelon Martin (Springfield, Mass.) won the 2019-20 GNAC Rookie of the Year (ROTY), becoming the seventh student-athlete in USJ history to receive the honor, the third straight male behind sophomore Jacob Wyse (Broad Brook, Conn.) of the men's swimming & diving team, and the reigning Basketball ROTY, Jackson Jr.
USJ'S GNAC ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Taelon Martin – Men's Basketball (2019-20)
Jacob Wyse – Men's Swimming & Diving (2018-19)
Delshawn Jackson Jr. – Men's Basketball (2018-19)
Patti Sciglimpaglia – Softball (2013)
Sara Barnick – Women's Soccer (2012)
Devon Diliberto – Women's Basketball (2010-11)
Cait Witham – Women's Soccer (2006)
Taelon was a five-time GNAC Rookie of the Week selection, including three consecutive weeks, the most in program history. The 6-foot-5 Putnam Product wooed crowds home and away with a series of acrobatic and rim-rocking slam dunks, serving as the sparkplug off the Blue Jay bench. Martin scored in double figures 16 times this season, including eight of the final 10 games when it mattered most.
In addition to JC, Taelon, DJ and Powell picking up major awards and honors, sophomore Ryan O'Neill (Litchfield, Conn.) was named to the GNAC All-Sportsmanship Team. O'Neill was one of two players to start every game for the Blue Jays this season, joining his classmate and captain, Jake Sullivan (Branford, Conn.). For the complete all-conference results, major award winners, and all-sportsmanship team, please see below.
Dana Bean, Colby-Sawyer
Marcus Fox, Emmanuel (Mass.)
Emmett Riddick, Emmanuel (Mass.)
Brian Hogan-Gary, Johnson & Wales (RI)
Jordan Powell, St. Joseph (Conn.)
Bobby Perette, Anna Maria
Tyreek Perkins, Albertus Magnus
EJ Day, Lasell
Kevin Vanderhorst, Lasell
Thomas Duffy, Suffolk
MAJOR AWARD WINNERS
PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Jack Casale, Saint Joseph's College of Maine
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Jaecee Martin, St. Joseph (Conn.)
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR – Taelon Martin, St. Joseph (Conn.)
COACH OF THE YEAR – Shawn Conrad, Anna Maria
INSTITUTIONAL SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD – Anna Maria College
Joshua L'Heureux, Rivier
Gibou Njie, Regis
Cameron Powers, Suffolk
Pat Coffey, Colby-SawyerZachary Crisafulli, Emmanuel
Keith Poitier, Lasell
Josh Dumay, Norwich
Bryan Davis, Johnson & Wales
Javon Smith, Anna Maria
Jack Ryan, Albertus Magnus
Zac Manoogian, Saint Joseph's (Maine)
Ryan O'Neill, Saint Joseph (Conn.)
USJ will compete in the Regional Round of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament for the first time, playing its opening round game against Hobart College (NY) on Friday, March 6 at 5:00 p.m., inside Blake Arena, on the campus of Springfield College, in Springfield, Mass.
Ticket prices are $12 for adults and $7 for students and senior citizens. Tickets can be purchased on game day (Friday) at the entrance of Blake Arena. USJ students, faculty, staff, and fans can pre-register for the game and reserve a ticket today by clicking here. Pre-registering will not provide you with a free ticket, but will serve as an RSVP to guarantee you a seat at the game. Fans will need to pay in cash for their ticket upon entry to Blake Arena.
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