(HALIFAX, N.S.) - Atlantic University Sport is pleased to announce the 2016-17 AUS men's basketball all-stars and major award winners as selected by the conference's eight head coaches following regular season play.
Fourth-year StFX X-Men forward Kevin Bercy of Kanata, Ont. was named the Atlantic University Sport most valuable player at Thursday evening’s awards banquet held at the Westin Nova Scotian in Halifax, N.S.
Other AUS major award winners announced during the banquet were UNB’s Jamaal Potopsingh of Brampton, Ont., who was named rookie of the year; Dalhousie’s Ritchie Kanza Mata of Toronto, who was named defensive player of the year, Dalhousie’s Kashrell Lawrence of Brampton, Ont., who received the student-athlete community service award; and Dalhousie Tigers head coach Rick Plato who was named the AUS coach of the year for the second consecutive year.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Kevin Bercy, StFX X-Men
Kevin Bercy, a senior with the StFX X-Men, is the 2016-17 Atlantic University Sport men's basketball most valuable player.
A 6-foot-7 forward from Kanata, Ontario, Bercy averaged a double-double this season with a team-high 19.8 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.
He led the nation in defensive rebounding with an average of 8.3 per game and finished second in the country in overall rebounding with 11.3 per game.
His field goal percentage of 59.4 was the best in the AUS.
Bercy will now be the AUS representative for the Mike Moser Memorial Trophy as the most outstanding player in U Sports basketball. The last Atlantic conference player to win the national award was William Njoku of the Saint Mary's Huskies in 1992-93.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Jamaal Potopsingh, UNB Varsity Reds
The 2016-17 AUS rookie of the year is Jamaal Potopsingh of the UNB Varisty Reds.
A six-foot-four forward from Brampton, Ont., Potopsingh started in 12 games for UNB and played in 18 in his freshman season with the Varsity Reds.
He led UNB in rebounding this season, averaging 6.6 rebounds per game, to go along with a 12.8 points per game average.
Potopsingh is the first player from the Varsity Reds to be named AUS rookie of the year since the 2013-14 season when teammate Javon Masters earned the honour.
He will now represent the conference as the AUS nominee for the Dr. Peter Mullins trophy. This award for U Sports rookie of the year has been claimed by a player from the Atlantic conference in two of the past four seasons (UNB’s Masters in 2013-14 and UPEI’s Deontay Smith in 2012-13).
Dalhousie's Shawn Plancke is the only other AUS player to earn the honour. He was named CIS (now U Sports) rookie of the year in 1992-93.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Ritchie Kanza Mata, Dalhousie Tigers
Ritchie Kanza Mata of the Dalhousie Tigers men's basketball team is the Wilsons Security Defensive Player of the Year.
A fifth-year arts student from Toronto, Kanza Mata received a $1,000 prize from Wilsons Security at this year’s awards banquet in recognition of his tireless efforts on the court this season.
The six-foot-one guard started in all 20 games for the Tigers this season. He led the conference in steals, averaging 2.4 per game.
He also had 3.7 defensive rebounds per game for the AUS-leading Dalhousie defence.
Kanza Mata and the two-time defending champion Tigers allowed just 71.0 points per game this season—fewer than any other team in the Atlantic conference.
They finished with a 16-4 regular season record—good for first place in the AUS standings.
Kanza Mata was named an AUS first team all-star for the second consecutive season.
In his five seasons with the Tigers, he amassed 1,005 career points and set a new AUS career assists record with 605.
Kanza Mata now becomes the AUS conference nominee for the U Sports defensive player of the year award.
CBU's Phil Nkrumah and StFX's Garry Gallimore are the only AUS players to have been named CIS defensive player of the year since the inception of the award in 2004-05.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Rick Plato, Dalhousie Tigers
Rick Plato, in this fourth year at the helm of the Dalhousie Tigers program, is the AUS coach of the year for the second consecutive season.
He is just the second Dalhousie men’s basketball coach to be named AUS coach of the year and the first to ever earn the honour twice.
Former Tigers head coach John Campbell earned the honour following the 2010-11 season.
This season, Coach Plato guided the U Sports No. 10-ranked and two-time defending AUS champion Tigers to a 16-4 record and a first-place finish in the regular season standings.
Dalhousie’s league-leading defence allowed the fewest points against this season—an average of just 71.0.
Prior to joining the Tigers, Plato began coaching the MSVU Mystics in 1989 and led the team to 14 appearances at their national championship, claiming two national medals.
Teams under his leadership won 13 ACAA conference championships and he was named ACAA coach of the year on 13 occasions. He received the national Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) coach of the year award in 2009.
Plato began his university basketball career as a player with the Saint Mary’s Huskies. He then went on to serve as an assistant coach with the Huskies men’s program from 1981 to 1984.
Plato will now represent the AUS as the nominee for U Sports coach of the year. StFX's Steve Konchalski (2000-01) is the last Atlantic conference head coach to win the Stuart W. Aberdeen Trophy as the nation's top university coach.
STUDENT-ATHLETE COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD: Kashrell Lawrence, Dalhousie Tigers
Kashrell Lawrence of the Dalhousie Tigers is the 2017 recipient of the AUS student-athlete community service award and will be the Atlantic conference nominee for the prestigious Ken Shields Award.
A native of Brampton, Ont., the six-foot-four forward was the Tigers’ leading scorer this season, averaging 15.2 points per game
He also led Dalhousie in rebounding, with an average of 6.8 per game, and had 1.9 steals per game.
Lawrence has served as a captain of the Tigers for the past three seasons. He is vice president of Dalhousie’s varsity council.
He is a member of the Tigers’ executive team for SAMHI—the student-athlete mental health initiative—and he played an integral part of promoting the Bell Let’s Talk Day initative on campus.
“In my 35 years of coaching, few student-athletes have demonstrated such excellence on the court and such selflessness off of it,” said Tigers head coach Rick Plato.
“From the outside, Kash appears as an imposing, fearless competitor. But, as the saying goes: ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’. I have come to know Kash as a compassionate, concerned, and thoughtful individual who always puts others first.
“As a three-year captain of the Tigers, and a forceful competitor who led his team to back-to-back AUS titles, most people know Kash as a basketball star. I am as equally if not more proud of Kash as a person who has shown a sincere desire to make a difference in the lives of those who are not nearly as fortunate as himself. In this regard, he is a true all-star.”
The last AUS player to win the national Ken Shields Award was former Memorial Sea-Hawks standout Noel Moffatt who earned the honour in 2014-15.
FIRST AND SECOND TEAM ALL-STARS AND ALL-ROOKIE TEAM
The Atlantic University Sport first and second team all-stars were also announced Friday, along with this year's all-rookie team.
First team all-stars:
Kevin Bercy, StFX (4th year – Kanata, Ont.)
Javon Masters, UNB (4th year – Kitchener, Ont.)
Ritchie Kanza Mata, Dalhousie (5th year – Toronto, Ont.)
Marquis Clayton, Saint Mary’s (5th year – Halifax, N.S.)
Kashrell Lawrence, Dalhousie (4th year – Brampton, Ont.)
Second team all-stars:
Erik Nissen, Acadia (4th year – Quispamsis, N.B.)
Vasilije Curcic, Memorial (5th year – Kragujevac, Serbia)
Tyler Scott, UPEI (5th year - Halifax, N.S.)
Ben Miller, Acadia (3rd year – Winnipeg, Man.)
Brian Rouse, Saint Mary’s (5th year – Mississauga, Ont.)
Jamaal Potopsingh, UNB (Brampton, Ont.)
Justin Andrew, StFX (Hamilton, Ont.)
Chris Spurrell, UNB (Rothesay, N.B.)
Nathan Barker, Memorial (Massey Drive, N.L.)
Kordeiro James, Saint Mary’s (Woodbridge, Ont.)
The 2017 Subway AUS Men’s Basketball Championship will be hosted by the AUS conference office at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, N.S., March 3-5, 2017.
The championship schedule is as follows: (seeding in brackets)
Friday, March 3
Quarterfinal #1: Acadia (5) vs. Memorial (4), 6:30 p.m.
Quarterfinal #2: StFX (6) vs. Saint Mary’s (3), 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 4
Semifinal #1: Winner QF#1 vs. Dalhousie (1), 6:30 p.m.
Semifinal #2: Winner QF#2 vs. UNB (2), 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 5
Final: SF1 Winner vs. SF2 Winner, 4:30 p.m.