INDIANAPOLIS -- Following a regular season that saw him win Horizon League Player of the Week a record seven times, Oakland junior guard Kay Felder completed a stellar regular season by being named Horizon League Player of the Year on Tuesday. Voting was conducted by the League’s 10 head coaches, sports information directors and selected media. Coaches could not vote for players from their own team.
Felder finished the regular season leading the Horizon League in scoring with an average of 24.4 points per game and led the nation in assists, averaging 9.4 per contest. The Detroit, Mich.-native is aiming to become the first player since Davidson’s Stephen Curry (28.6 ppg, 5.6 apg) in 2008-09 to average over 34.0 points-plus-assists per game. The 2014 HL Freshman of the Year has 292 assists this season and needs 14 more to break the HL mark of 305 that has stood since the 1984-85 season. Felder broke the League’s career assists record on Feb. 11, and with 756 career assists currently, he can now turn his attention towards chasing the NCAA DI career assists mark of 1,076 set by Duke’s Bobby Hurley (1989-93).
Behind its fourth regular season title in five seasons, Valparaiso’s Bryce Drew and Vashil Fernandez both repeated as Coach of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively. Drew has now won the honor three times in five seasons and he becomes the first coach since Butler’s Brad Stevens (2008-09 & 2009-10) to win the award in back-to-back seasons. Fernandez led the Horizon League with 94 blocked shots in the regular season as he guided a Valpo defense that ranks in the top-10 nationally in opponents field goal percentage (3rd; 37.8) and scoring defense (6th, 61.0).
UIC’s Dikembe Dixson was a unanimous selection for Freshman of the Year as he was picked on every ballot in which he appeared. The Freeport, Ill.-native has scored 576 points this year, averaging 19.9 points per game, setting a Horizon League record for most points scored in a freshman season. He scored 419 points in 18 League games to finish one point shy of tying for the most scored in HL play this year. Dixson scored a season-best 40 points in UIC’s game at Youngstown State on Feb. 16. Dixson also led all freshman in rebounding, averaging 7.2 per game and ranked second in the HL in minutes played at 36.6 per game.
Oakland’s Max Hooper was the Sixth Man of the Year. The Carmel Valley, Calif.-native appeared off the bench in 27 of the Golden Grizzlies 31 games this season. The senior sharp-shooter leads the Horizon League with 102 three-pointers made this season and is averaging 3.3 long balls a contest. All 229 of Hooper’s shots this season have been three-point attempts.
Felder is joined on the All-League First-Team by Valparaiso’s Alec Peters, Detroit’s Paris Bass, Milwaukee’s Matt Tiby and Green Bay’s Carrington Love. Felder and Peters are now both two-time honorees, while this is the first First-Team nod for the other three players.
Peters led the Crusaders in scoring (17.5 ppg) and rebounding (8.3) this season. The Washington, Ill.-native ranked fifth in scoring, second in rebounding and shot 52.4 percent on field goals during Horizon League play. The junior forward is one of the most offensively efficent players in the country as his rating of 127.5 by Ken Pomeroy ranks seventh amongst all NCAA DI players.
Like Peters, Bass led his team in scoring and rebounding as he enters postseason play with averages of 18.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. The 2015 Horizon League Freshman of the Year is the only player in the League to rank in the top-5 in scoring, rebounding, steals and blocked shots.
Tiby is the third player on the First-Team to lead his team in scoring and rebounding this year. The Second Team selection last year is averaging 15.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. The senior forward has 256 rebounds this season and in three years as a Panther has registered the top three rebounding seasons in UWM’s DI history.
Love led Green Bay in scoring and steals this season with averages of 18.3 points and 2.5 steals per game. The senior stepped up and filled the scoring void created by the graduation of two-time Horizon League Player of the Year Keifer Sykes as he nearly doubled his scoring average of 9.5 points as a junior. Also voted as a member of the All-Defensive team, Love led the HL in steals in the regular season with 78, setting Green Bay’s single-season mark.
The Second-Team was made up on four underclassmen as Dixson, sophomores Jalen Hayes and Cameron Morse, and junior Jordan Johnson were joined on the team by senior Jordan Fouse.
Hayes led Oakland in rebounding with an average of 8.8 rebounds per contest. He had a League-best average of 9.4 during Horizon League play. The Lansing, Mich.-native posted 14 double-doubles during the regular season, second-best in the HL to his teammate Felder who had 17.
Youngstown State’s Morse led the Horizon League in scoring during League play at 23.3 points per contest. The sophomore from Flint, Mich., increased his scoring average by 14.1 points from his freshman season. Morse scored a League-best 44 points in the Penguins win over Green Bay on Jan. 9.
With 254 assists, Johnson has set Milwaukee’s single-season assists record. The junior, playing in his first season with the Panthers, ranks second in total assists and assists per game (8.2), trailing Felder in both categories. On Feb. 22, Johnson recorded a triple-double in Milwaukee’s win over Youngstown State with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He is the only player to register a triple-double in the Horizon League this season.
Fouse is everywhere on the Green Bay stat sheet as he either leads the team or ranks second on the team in scoring (12.0 ppg), rebounding (8.5 rpg), assists (3.4 apg), steals (2.2 spg) and blocks (1.4 bpg) He posted a team-best 10 double-doubles this season. The Racine, Wis.-native broke the Horizon League career steals record earlier this season and has 256 for his career. Fouse was also voted onto the All-Defensive team for the fourth time in his career. He joins fellow Green Bay player Terry Evans (2006-09) as the only players in League history to make the All-Defensive team all four years of their career.
Dixson was joined on the All-Freshman team by Northern Kentucky’s Drew McDonald, Cleveland State’s Rob Edwards, Detroit’s Josh McFolley and Youngstown State’s Jordan Andrews. Like Dixson, McDonald and Edwards both led their teams in scoring during Horizon League play. McFolley led the Titans and all freshmen in the League with 66 assists, while Andrews averaged 9.8 points per game during League competition.
Fernandez, Fouse and Love were joined on the All-Defensive team by UIC”s Tai Odiase and Wright State’s Joe Thomasson. Odiase edged Fernandez by one for the most blocks in League-play with 69. Thomasson led the Raiders with 28 steals and was second with 14 blocked shots as the Raiders were second in the Horizon League in scoring defense.
The 2016 Little Caesars Horizon League Men’s Basketball Championship starts on Saturday, March 5, with four first round games at Joe Louis Arena in in Detroit, Mich. Top-seed Valparaiso and second-seed Oakland received a double bye into the semifinals and begin play on Monday. The championship game is scheduled to tip at 7 p.m. EST on ESPN. All nine games will appear on ESPN Networks.
2016 Horizon League Men’s Basketball Award Winners
Player of the Year: Kay Felder, Oakland (Jr., G)
Defensive Player of the Year: Vashil Fernandez, Valparaiso (Sr., C)
Freshman of the Year: Dikembe Dixson, UIC (F)
Sixth Man of the Year: Max Hooper, Oakland (Sr., G)
Coach of the Year: Bryce Drew, Valparaiso
All-League First Team
Kay Felder, Oakland (Jr., G)
Alec Peters, Valparaiso (Jr, F)
Paris Bass, Detroit (So., G/F)
Matt Tiby, Milwaukee (Sr., F)
Carrington Love, Green Bay (Sr., G)
All-League Second Team
Jalen Hayes, Oakland (So., F)
Cameron Morse, Youngstown State (So., G)
Jordan Fouse, Green Bay (Sr., F)
Jordan Johnson, Milwaukee (Jr., G)
Dikembe Dixson, UIC (Fr., F)
Dikembe Dixson, UIC (F)
Drew McDonald, Northern Kentucky (F)
Rob Edwards, Cleveland State (G)
Josh McFolley, Detroit (G)
Jordan Andrews, Youngstown State (G)
Vashil Fernandez, Valparaiso (Sr., C)
Jordan Fouse, Green Bay (Sr., F)
Tai Odiase, UIC (So., F/C)
Joe Thomasson, Wright State (Sr., G)
Carrington Love, Green Bay (Sr., G)