OUA announces 2017-18 men’s basketball major awards and all-stars

Photo by Laurentian Voyageurs
Photo by Laurentian Voyageurs

BURLINGTON, Ont. – Ontario University Athletics (OUA) is pleased to announce the 2017-18 men’s basketball major award winners and Wilson Sports all-stars.

After starting his career on the OUA All-Rookie Team – earning OUA and U SPORTS Rookie of the Year honours - and securing a spot as a First-Team All-Star last year, Laurentian’s Kadre Gray (Toronto, Ont.) has gone above and beyond in his second season. The Voyageurs star, in addition to his second consecutive First-Team All-Star nod, has also been named the OUA Player of the Year for 2017-18.

Gray not only led his team in scoring, but paced the entire OUA with his 24.4 points per game. The impressive offensive efforts ranked the sophomore 2nd in U SPORTS scoring, while also sitting atop the nation in passing with 7.0 APG. Gray chipped in with 8.0 rebounds per contest, as well – ranking 7th in the OUA – to give him an eye-popping overall stat line for the season. With numbers like that, it’s no surprise that Gray notched the only three triple-doubles in the OUA this season.

Beyond his personal success, Gray was also a catalyst for Laurentian’s most successful team in years, as the Voyageurs climbed to as high as 5th in the national ranks. After helping to add three wins to their record last season, Gray took it a step further this season by spearheading a seven-game improvement and a 16-7 overall record, despite missing the final stretch of the season with an injury.

Gray joins a long list of past Laurentian winners – one that includes five other individuals earning the award a total of eight times – but is the first since Ted Dongelmans third straight MVP nod in 1999-00 to bring the honour to Sudbury. Gray isn’t the only Voyageur being recognized this season; however, as teammate Nelson Yengue (Yaoundé, Cameroon) has been named an OUA Third-Team All-Star thanks in large part to his 15.5 PPG and 6.9 RPG this season.

One individual who will be looking to take a similar path as Gray, going from Rookie of the Year to Player of the Year, is this year’s freshman phenom. Laurier’s Ali Sow (Ottawa, Ont.) has earned the OUA Rookie of the Year nod, celebrating a campaign that ended in record-setting fashion for the first-year Golden Hawk.

Sow, who ranked second on the purple and gold in scoring, poured in a career-high 31 points against the powerhouse Badgers last month, but his crowning accomplishment came in the team’s regular season finale, wherein his 27-point performance moved him to the top of Laurier’s all-time rookie scoring list (393); an impressive list that includes six previous Golden Hawk winners of the rookie award.

The player who Sow passed on this list, meanwhile, is current teammate Tevaun Kokko (Markham, Ont.), who had himself a strong campaign as well. Kokko, for the second straight season, has earned a nod as an OUA Second-Team All-Star, after leading his team in assists (3.2 APG), steals (1.6 SPG), and scoring (19.3 PPG); finishing the season ranked 4th in the conference in the latter.

For all the talk about offense, the defensive side of the game cannot be overlooked, and one player who has shone brightest on that end of the floor is Marcus Anderson (Brampton, Ont.). The Carleton Ravens’ standout has been a key cog in the nation’s leading defensive squad, and for his efforts, has been named the OUA Defensive Player of the Year. Anderson was able to anchor an impressive unit with his defensive presence, helping to consistently put a kink in the opposition’s game plan. He tallied two steals per game, while also chipping in on the glass, but beyond the numbers, Anderson’s defensive intangibles were a big part in the Ravens’ ability to limit teams to just 60.4 PPG this season.

Anderson, who is the team’s eighth winner in the last 10 seasons, wasn’t the only Carleton standout; however, which makes sense for a team that went 23-0 in the regular season. The duo of Eddie Ekiyor (Ottawa, Ont.) and Yasiin Joseph (Ottawa, Ont.) have both cracked the OUA First-Team All-Star roster, as both racked up over 14 PPG on the year. Ekiyor was one of the most efficient players in the conference, ranking 5th in field goal percentage (59.0%), while also adding 7.6 RPG and one block per contest.

Joseph, meanwhile, turned in his all-star season after averaging around five minutes per contest for the previous two seasons. Starting in all 23 contests for the Ravens, the junior guard improved on his previous season best scoring average by over 11 PPG, while also seeing strong improvements in several other statistical categories; truly making the most of his new-found starting role and additional minutes. 

Guiding the nation’s No. 1 seed from the sidelines, meanwhile, is head coach Dave Smart, who takes home his second consecutive (11th overall) OUA Coach of the Year win. The Ravens’ bench boss once again led his team to an undefeated regular season (23-0), which saw Carleton rank in and amongst the top teams across Canada in just about every key statistical category this year.

Another individual who is no stranger to recognition is Windsor Lancers’ Mike Rocca (Sarnia, Ont.), as the decorated senior has found success both on and off the court. For his efforts this season, not only has Rocca been named an OUA Second-Team All-Star, he has also been named the 2017-18 Ken Shields Award winner. 

Awarded to the student-athlete who exhibits outstanding achievement in the areas of basketball, academics, and community involvement, Rocca has checked every box in his final campaign with the Lancers. A three-time Academic All-Canadian and now two-time OUA All-Star, Rocca has also made an incredible impact on the community as well, thanks to, among other initiatives, his leading role with the men’s basketball read-a-thon program. Overall, his volunteerism, servitude, leadership, and overall success as a student-athlete make him a deserving recipient of the award.

From one decorated senior to another, Brock’s Dani Elgadi (Waterloo, Ont.) has once again been named an OUA First-Team All-Star, continuing an award-winning streak that started with his Rookie of the Year nod in 2013-14. Elgadi has continued to play a leading role for the nation’s No. 3 squad, leading the team in scoring (17.3 PPG), rebounding (9.3 RPG), blocks (1.7 BPG), and field goal percentage (51.5%). He also ranks second on the Badgers in both steals and assists, while ranking in and around the top ten in the OUA across several of these key categories as well.

Fellow Badger Cassidy Ryan (Mississauga, Ont.), the conference’s 12th leading scorer (16.9 PPG), has carved out a spot as an OUA Second-Team All-Star in his fourth year, while freshman Kascius Small-Martin (Toronto, Ont.) has been named to the OUA All-Rookie Team.

Rounding out the First-Team All-Stars is Ryerson standout Manny Diressa (Toronto, Ont.), who is the proud owner of a 50-point masterpiece this season. Beyond his offensive explosion against the York Lions, Diressa put up one of the finest statistical seasons of his career, notching 21.8 PPG (3rd in OUA), 5.3 RPG, and 3.5 APG, all while lighting it up from downtown (37.6 3PT%). This is the third straight all-star selection for Diressa – second consecutive First-Team nod – who has once again helped the Rams reach top-ten status on the national stage.

While Diressa has provided much of the Rams’ current success, Ryerson can also look ahead to a bright future with the likes of Tanor Ngom (Dakar, Senegal) leading the way. The freshman’s successful season earned him a spot on the OUA All-Rookie Team.

Like the Rams, a pair of other teams – the Waterloo Warriors and Toronto Varsity Blues – also find themselves represented with both all-stars and all-rookies. Donning the black and gold for the former, first of all, is OUA Second-Team All-Star Nedim Hodzic (Waterloo, Ont.), who has continued to build out an impressive OUA résumé in his sophomore season. Just a year after being named to the All-Rookie Team, Hodzic ramped up his play into a deserving all-star selection, as evidenced by his 23.1 PPG (2nd in OUA) on 50% shooting, to go along with 12.0 RPG (1st in OUA).

The rookie representative from Waterloo is Justin Malnerich (Cambridge, Ont.), who was a valuable source of scoring off the bench for the Warriors with over eight points per game. Fellow first year Evan Shadkami (Toronto, Ont.) from the Toronto Varsity Blues, meanwhile, rounds out the OUA All-Rookie Team, with his 10.6 PPG and sharp-shooting three-point efforts (35.5 3PT%).

Toronto is also represented on the OUA Third-Team All-Stars by the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, Reilly Reid (Mississauga, Ont.). The senior Varsity Blue has taken the next step this season, pouring in 14 points per contest on over 40% shooting from the field and 33% shooting from deep, while also grabbing six boards per game.

No stranger to boasting a well-rounded presence on the court, meanwhile, is the final member of the OUA Second-Team All-Stars, Jean Emmanuel Pierre-Charles (Ottawa, Ont.). The Ottawa Gee-Gees standout is also no stranger to OUA accolades, having already earned a First-Team All-Star selection in his first season with the team. Helping him to secure the honour this year was his over 13 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per contest; the latter of which ranks him 5th in the OUA.  One of the most impressive aspects of Pierre-Charles’ skillset, however, is his efficiency from the floor, as he continued to elevate his accuracy to the tune of 59% shooting from the field; good enough for 4th in the conference.

Staying out east, a pair of Queen’s Gaels – Jaz Bains (Brampton, Ont.) and Tanner Graham (Kingston, Ont.) – has earned OUA Third-Team All-Star nods. The Tricolour’s leading scorers combined to average 33 points per game and connect on four three-pointers per contest to boot. The former rounded out his impressive stat line with over 1.5 steals per game and a 5.3 assists per contest (3rd on OUA), while the latter completed his double-double season averages with 10.4 rebounds per game (2nd in OUA).

The final member of the OUA Third-Team All-Stars is McMaster’s David McCulloch (Hamilton, Ont.), who secured 18.8 PPG on over 35% shooting from downtown. He also added almost five rebounds per game, along with more than two assists and one steal to round out his overall in-game impact for the Marauders.

Christine Vuong rounds out the award selections by receiving the Officials Award of Merit.

Vuong has been officiating within the OUA since 2012, which included efforts in both the 2017 Critelli Cup and the 2017 U SPORTS Championship. Her experience, however, also goes well beyond the OUA, as she also has done work internationally (Universiade Games), with the National Basketball League of Canada, and more, while also volunteering her time with a number of youth and basketball endeavors.

The complete list of major award winners and all-stars can be found below:

OUA Major Award Winners

Player of the Year – Kadre Gray, Laurentian
Defensive Player of the Year – Marcus Anderson, Carleton
Rookie of the Year – Ali Sow, Laurier
Ken Shields Award – Mike Rocca, Windsor
Coach of the Year – Dave Smart, Carleton
Officials Award of Merit – Christine Vuong

OUA First-Team All-Stars

Kadre Gray, Laurentian
Manny Diressa, Ryerson
Eddie Ekiyor, Carleton
Dani Elgadi, Brock
Yasiin Joseph, Carleton

OUA Second-Team All-Stars

Jean Emmanuel Pierre-Charles, Ottawa
Cassidy Ryan, Brock
Mike Rocca, Windsor
Nedim Hodzic, Waterloo
Tevaun Kokko, Laurier

OUA Third-Team All-Stars

Tanner Graham, Queen’s
Jaz Bains, Queen’s
Nelson Yengue, Laurentian
Reilly Reid, Toronto
David McCulloch, McMaster

OUA All-Rookie Team

Ali Sow, Laurier
Evan Shadkami, Toronto
Kascius Small-Martin, Brock
Justin Malnerich, Waterloo
Tanor Ngom, Ryerson

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