INDIANAPOLIS -- Valparaiso junior Ryan Broekhoff was tabbed the Horizon League Player of the Year, leading the youngest First Team in Horizon League history in voting of the League’s coaches, sports information directors and media.
Valparaiso was well represented in the postseason awards balloting, as Bryce Drew became the fourth Horizon League head coach in the last 15 years to earn Coach of the Year in his first season in charge of a program, joining Paul Biancardi (Wright State, 2003), Thad Matta (Butler, 2001) and Jimmy Collins (UIC, 1997).
Butler’s Ronald Nored continued to collect postseason accolades. A week after earning CoSIDA Academic All-America honors, the senior becomes the first two-time Defensive Player of the Year in the Horizon League. Nored ranked third in the League in steals while helping Butler to the second-best field-goal defense in the conference.
Wright State’s Julius Mays, who led the League with 10 games of 20 or more points, earned Newcomer of the Year honors. Mays’ 15.2 ppg in conference play ranked third, while the junior’s 33-point effort on Jan. 25 ranks as the best in the conference this year.
Detroit pivot Eli Holman, who came off the bench to average 11.0 ppg, collected the Sixth Man of the Year award. Holman paced the League with 3.4 offensive boards, ranking fourth with 7.4 rpg.
Broekhoff was joined on the First Team by teammate Kevin Van Wijk, whose 62.6 percent shooting led the League and helped him average 14.4 ppg.
The rest of the First Team was composed of sophomores, as Detroit’s Ray McCallum (15.1 ppg, 3.9 apg), Kendrick Perry of Youngstown State (16.8 ppg, 2.4 spg) and Green Bay center Alec Brown (13.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg) combined to make the team the youngest in Horizon League history, edging the three junior (Matt Howard, Norris Cole, Rahmon Fletcher), two sophomore (Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack) combination of 2009-10.
The All-League Second Team was packed with upperclassmen. Milwaukee senior point guard Kaylon Williams, Cleveland State senior Trevon Harmon, Mays, Loyola junior forward Ben Averkamp and Butler’s Nored earned spots on the team.
Williams paced the conference in assists at 6.5 apg, while Harmon (13.1 ppg), Mays (14.2 ppg) and Averkamp (15.2 ppg) all ranked in the top 10 of the League in scoring. Nored ranked immediately behind Williams with 5.3 apg.
Mays led the All-Newcomer selections and was just one of two transfers to make the team, with UIC junior Gary Talton joining Mays. Three freshmen - Green Bay’s Keifer Sykes, Anton Grady of Cleveland State and Butler’s Roosevelt Jones - were selected to the team. One of the youngest players in the country, Sykes averaged 15.2 ppg and 4.5 apg after turning 18 on Dec. 30, while Jones set a Butler record with four double-doubles this season. Grady emerged in League play to average 10.5 ppg and 7.1 rpg in League play. Talton’s 12.5 ppg average was 12th in the conference.
Nored was part of a guard-heavy All-Defensive Team. Both Harmon and D’Aundray Brown represented a Cleveland State squad that ranks 18th in the country in scoring defense. Youngstown State’s Damian Eargle, who ranks third nationally in blocks per game, joined the trio, while Ryan Allen of Milwaukee rounded out the squad. Allen, at just 6-foot-4, averaged 1.2 blocks per game, sixth in the League.
The 2012 Horizon League Men’s Basketball Championship will tip-off on Tuesday, Feb. 28, with four first round games on campus sites. Top-seeded Valparaiso and No. 2 seed Cleveland State earned byes into the semifinals, where they will meet the winners of the second round games on Saturday, March 3. The Horizon League title game will be played at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 6, on ESPN.