Second straight Player of the Year nod for Laurentian’s Gray highlights 2018-19 major award winners

Second straight Player of the Year nod for Laurentian’s Gray highlights 2018-19 major award winners

Burlington, Ont. – He started his university career with a splash three years ago, and after another standout year on the hardwood, Laurentian’s Kadre Gray (Toronto, Ont.) has added another piece of hardware to his growing trophy case. Ontario University Athletics (OUA) is pleased to announce the major award winners and all-stars from the 2018-19 season, highlighted by Gray’s second consecutive Player of the Year recognition.

Just when you thought he couldn’t find another gear, he did just that. The accolades go on and on for Gray, with the 2018-19 Player of the Year honour representing the latest on his ever-expanding resume. The third-year star was once again the standout for the Voyageurs en route to their repeat trip to the postseason, but he was also a leading figure amidst the conference and country as a whole. Gray topped the masses in both scoring (31.0 PPG) and assists (6.2 APG), while also pulling down an impressive 7.4 rebounds per contest. His production was something to behold, but he also provided it efficiently, as he managed his offensive output on 48.8% shooting from the floor.

Gray, who is also a first-team all-star, also took his talents beyond the university game this season as a member of Team Canada. The reigning OUA Male Athlete of the Year and U SPORTS BLG Award Winner was also given the opportunity to suit up for the red and white as part of their FIBA World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers against Venezuela and Brazil, and after putting a stamp on his award-winning season with a 45-point performance against the then No. 1 Ryerson Rams, he was also recognized by the national organization as their Male Player of the Week, which further epitomizes his elite-level talent and deserving recognition once again this year.

While Gray was certainly the focal point for his team, another OUA squad had a bevy of 2018-19 standouts helping them to another season of lofty success. In fact, the Carleton Ravens had plenty of weapons at their disposal, along with Dave Smart – one of the sport’s most iconic coaches, who has claimed his 11th selection as the OUA’s Coach of the Year in guiding the Ravens to a 22-1 record and top seed in all of U SPORTS – helping to call the shots from the sidelines. But while his impact is as impressive as any bench boss in the conference, the 13-time national championship winning coach would be quick to turn the attention to his talent-laden roster that paced the country both offensively (91.3 points per game) and defensively (59.3 points per game allowed) this year.

Chief among these standouts on the defensive end was Marcus Anderson (Brampton, Ont.), who after another impressive campaign limiting the opposition, has earned back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards. The fourth-year guard was a focal point for the team’s top-ranked mark in points against. His length and athleticism has caused teams headaches since he entered the league in 2015-16 – earning all-rookie honours that season – and his 1.7 steals per game average (T9 in OUA) is just one example of how the reigning OUA and U SPORTS Defensive Player of the Year can impact the game for the nation’s top-ranked squad.

A trio of Anderson’s teammates, meanwhile, have carried the load on the other end of the floor, and have each earned an all-star nod for their efforts. For a second straight year, Eddie Ekiyor (Ottawa, Ont.) turned in a first-team effort, shooting nearly 64% from the floor. His 13.9 points per game and 6.2 boards per contest are even more impressive when you consider that the third-year forward only started 10 of the Ravens’ 23 games on the year, and his selection is a true testament to the impact he has provided off the pine for the black birds.

TJ Lall (Cambridge, Ont.) was the latter half of the team’s top-scoring duo, picking up 12.5 points per contest on 55% from the floor. While those numbers are impressive on their own, they are even more so when considering they, like Ekiyor’s, came in limited time on the floor, in and around 23 minutes per game. Carleton’s leader in assists, Munis Tutu (Windsor, Ont.), meanwhile, rounds out the team’s 2018-19 all-star contingent, parlaying his team-high 4.3 APG, as well as his 11.5 PPG and 4.8 RPG averages into a third-team nod.

Carleton isn’t the only team from the nation’s capital that has churned out some of the best in the business, and when it comes to the Ottawa Gee-Gees, they’ll be enjoying their 2018-19 all-star’s production for years to come. Guillaume Pepin (Montreal, Que.), in just his first foyer into the university basketball scene, picked up a trio of awards for the Garnet and Grey, being named the Rookie of the Year, while also earning second-team all-star and all-rookie honours. Pepin came to the Gee-Gees after starring at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf and translated his CCAA All-Canadian honours in his final year into several leading figures for Ottawa this season. The freshman forward paced the club in scoring (15.4 PPG) and rebounding (7.5 RPG), while his 354 points not only led all U SPORTS rookies, but also broke a significant school record by surpassing former national Player of the Year Johnny Berhanemeskel (352).

Pepin will be one to watch for several years, but another East Division inhabitant that has already executed his craft to a high degree throughout his university career is Tanner Graham (Kingston, Ont.). It has been a decorated five-year career for the Queen’s Gaels forward, but he saved his best campaign for last with 15.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 3.1 APG. After picking up all-rookie (2014-15) and third-team all-star (2017-18) honours along the way, Graham has turned his productive fifth season – both on and off the court – into a second-team all-star selection and this year’s Ken Shields Award.

The now two-time all-star, who finishes his career ranked third on the Gaels’ all-time scoring list, has earned four Academic All-Canadian honours during his Queen’s tenure. Aside from being one of the more versatile and productive players on the hardwood since his arrival, he has also earned a cumulative 4.0 GPA and is well on his way to a fifth Academic All-Canadian award. He has also contributed to the wider school and community as a whole, including: volunteering with Revved Up, a program that works with individuals with physical and/or mental disabilities; taking part in the student-athlete initiative Gaels Care to work with elementary school children in need of mentoring; and organizing the 500 Miles for Parkinson’s Basketball Tournament, an event that Graham started and has raised over $6,000 for in support of former Gaels Harry McMurty.

Joining Graham as an all-star – a third-team representative – is fellow Gael Jaz Bains (Brampton, Ont.). The fifth-year guard poured in 19 points per game, along with 4.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists per contest for the Gaels en route to his second-straight third-team selection. Bains has continued to be a prominent presence in the OUA since making the switch from his collegiate days with St. Lawrence College, where he was the OCAA Rookie of the Year in 2014-15 and Player of the Year in 2015-16.

Another high-scoring guard has turned in an all-star performance for his squad this season, as the reigning Rookie of the Year took a significant step forward for the Golden Hawks in 2018-19. The conference’s second-leading scorer, Ali Sow (Ottawa, Ont.), not only took his game to another level this season, but his team as a whole. Sow’s OUA single-season scoring record (639 points) was just one highlight from his potently productive campaign, as the first-team all-star (26.6 PPG) also became Laurier’s single-season scoring record holder and set the school’s modern day single-game scoring mark with 44 against Nipissing. The native of the nation’s capital rounded out his season with averages of four rebounds, three assists, and 1.5 steals per contest.

As another member of this year’s first-team all-stars can attest, however, Sow wasn’t the only backcourt threat across the conference. Another guard that left the opposition scratching their heads this season was JV Mukama (Hamilton, Ont.), whose size and athleticism made him one of the most difficult to match on both ends of the floor. The fifth-year guard stepped into a leading role for the Rams this season, picking up team-high marks of 18.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.8 steals, along with 2.8 assists and 0.8 blocks contest.

The other member of the Rams’ backcourt also put up all-star numbers for Ryerson this season, and for his efforts, he claims a spot on the second team. Myles Charvis (Mississauga, Ont.) put a definitive stamp on his five-year university career, with career-high marks across the board. The former all-rookie team member (2013-14) checked in with marks of 16.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, and a fourth-ranked 4.8 assists per contest for the year and was a key member for the Rams team that played their way to the top of the nation’s ranks earlier this season.

Like Ryerson, Brock boasts a pair of all-stars in this year’s crop, which includes first-teamer Johneil Simpson (Toronto, Ont.). The senior guard, who quickly rose the ranks of the Badgers’ all-time greats as the season played on, was an offensive juggernaut, finishing with the fourth-ranked mark of 20.5 points per game. His lofty average helped him power his way to the program’s second-ranked career point total. Fellow Badger Cassidy Ryan (Mississauga, Ont.) earned a third-team selection in what was his swan song for the St. Catharines squad, as he averaged 18.3 points and 5.8 rebounds on the year, while shooting over 46% from the field.

Ryan wasn’t the only big to post such noticeable numbers; however, as he is joined on the third team by Waterloo’s Nedim Hodzic (Waterloo, Ont.). The hometown talent picks up his second consecutive all-star selection after cracking the second team a year ago, and as one of just two players to average a double-double on the year, the honour is well-deserved. The Warriors forward poured in 20.5 points per game (5th in OUA) and 10.2 rebounds per game (2nd in OUA) for the black and gold this year.

Another 20-point producer has found a home as a second-team all-star. Omar Shiddo (Toronto, Ont.), a third-year guard for the Western Mustangs, finished third in league scoring on the year (21.3 PPG), doing some significant damage on the scoreboard from beyond the arc, connecting on 3.5 long balls per game and shooting nearly 40% from deep.

Rounding out the talent-laden all-star contingent with a third-team nod is David McCulloch (Hamilton, Ont.). The savvy veteran, who earns his second consecutive third-team all-star selection, was once again a focal point for the McMaster squad that turned to the hometown guard for leadership on and off the court. The lone graduating senior was instrumental for the youthful squad from the hammer, finishing off his final season as the team’s second-leading scorer (15.4 PPG), while leading the Marauders with an average of 32 minutes per game. His 73 assists were also a single-season career high.

One of the young teammates that McCulloch played alongside this year was Jordan Henry (Pickering, Ont.), who played his way on to the all-rookie team in his debut campaign. Henry made his mark in more ways than one, and while his 11.9 points per game were good enough for third on the team, one of his most impactful skillsets was that of distributor. His 113 total assists led Mac, while his average of 4.7 assists per game put him fifth in the OUA. The firs-year guard also led the Marauders with 37 steals and was second on the team in rebounds with 102.

A pair of players representing Toronto-based squads have also earned all-rookie honours this year –Inaki Alvarez (Altafulla, Spain) from the Varsity Blues and York Lions’ DeAndrae Pierre (Brampton, Ont.). The former ranked second on U of T with 12.9 points per game, but the talented two-way freshman also topped the team in steals (26). Pierre, meanwhile, averaged 13 points, four rebounds, and 2.5 assists for York while playing a team-high 29.9 minutes per contest. The first-year guard was a key factor in the team’s first playoff appearance since 2014-15 and six-win improvement on the year, with his shining moment coming in a career-best 31-point performance against Waterloo in November.

The final first-year phenom recognized this season is Thomas Kennedy (Windsor, Ont.), who started all 24 games for the Windsor Lancers in his foyer into the university game. It was a productive 25+ minutes per game for the freshman, as he was second on the team in scoring (11.5), while pacing the Lancers in both rebounds (8.4) and blocked shots (1.5) per game.

While all of these players made an impact on the hardwood, an individual who helped to make an impact with the whistle is also being recognized. The year’s Officials Award of Merit recipient, Tony Turnbull, is a veteran of the OUA game and officiating in general. The 20+ year member of the OUA Officials Panel and 35-year member of the Hamilton Board of Officials has taken part in some of the biggest games at various levels, from high school to post-secondary to Canada Basketball Nationals, and moreover, has been part of OUA postseason officiating crews for over 15 years.  

The complete list of 2018-19 OUA men’s basketball major award winners and all-stars is below:

Major Award Winners

Player of the Year Kadre Gray, Laurentian
Defensive Player of the Year – Marcus Anderson, Carleton
Rookie of the Year – Guillaume Pepin, Ottawa
Coach of the Year – Dave Smart, Carleton
Ken Shields Award – Tanner Graham, Queen’s
Officials Award of Merit – Tony Turnbull

First Team All-Stars
Kadre Gray, Laurentian
Eddie Ekiyor, Carleton
JV Mukama, Ryerson
Johneil Simpson, Brock
Ali Sow, Laurier

Second Team All-Stars
Myles Charvis, Ryerson
Tanner Graham, Queen’s
TJ Lall, Carleton
Guillaume Pepin, Ottawa
Omar Shiddo, Western

Third Team All-Stars
Jaz Bains, Queen’s
Nedim Hodzic, Waterloo
David McCulloch, McMaster
Cassidy Ryan, Brock
Munis Tutu, Carleton

All-Rookie Team
Guillaume Pepin, Ottawa
Inaki Alvarez, Toronto
Jordan Henry, McMaster
Thomas Kennedy, Windsor
DeAndrae Pierre, York