All-conference awards include individual honors for Belmont's Byrd, Clark

Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 9:01pm
Staff reports

After winning its first Ohio Valley Conference championship, Belmont raked in some postseason awards Tuesday.

Belmont senior guard Ian Clark shared player of the year honors with Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan and was named the defensive player of the year. Rick Byrd, in his 27th year with the Bruins, was named the OVC’s coach of the year.

In addition, Belmont point guard Kerron Johnson joined Clark on the All-OVC first team. The guard tandem helped the Bruins to a 14-2 record in OVC play in their first year in the conference after moving over from the Atlantic Sun.

Clark, the school’s all-time NCAA career scoring leader, averages 18.1 points and ranks third in the country in 3-point field-goal percentage (46.2). Johnson averages 13.5 points and tied Clark for a team-high 50 steals.

For Byrd, it is the 11th district or conference coach of the year award. He has guided the Bruins to their fourth straight regular-season crown.

“All of us involved in the Belmont University men’s basketball program appreciate the postseason honors that were announced today by the league office,” Byrd said. “Very few guard tandems in college basketball have enjoyed the personal and team success that Ian and Kerron have during their four years at Belmont. The coach of the year award is truly a reflection of the accomplishments of the players, the coaching staff and all others who have worked hard to make this first year in the OVC a successful one.

“Very few coaches have the good fortune to work with a basketball staff of great coaches and outstanding people like I do. I’m very appreciative of the award, and happy to share it with [assistant coaches] Brian Ayers, James Strong, Mark Price and Tyler Holloway.”

• More OVC: Tennessee State had three players earn all-OVC recognition.

Point guard Patrick Miller was named to the first team after averaging 14.6 points and leading the league in assists per game (5.5). Forward Robert Covington, despite missing 10 games due to injury, was named to the second team after he averaged a team-high 16.8 points. Forward Kellen Thornton also garnered second-team accolades as he averaged 15.5 points and a team-high 7.9 rebounds.

• Atlantic Sun awards: Lipscomb center Stephen Hurt was named the Atlantic Sun Conference’s freshman of the year.

A 6-foot-11, 295-pounder from Murfreesboro, Hurt averaged 11.8 points and a team-high 7.9 rebounds. Hurt ranks second in the country among freshman in both scoring and rebounding and

“Stephen has really just scratched the surface,” coach Scott Sanderson said.  “He is just now learning what he has to do to be a really, really good player. He has had a very good freshman year and put up pretty good numbers but he still has a lot to learn.”

On the women’s side, Lipscomb forward Alex Banks was named to the all-freshman team. Banks, a Hendersonville native, averages 8.4 points and 4.9 rebounds. Senior guard Hannah Phillips, from Brentwood, was named to the all-academic team.

SEC women's awards: Tennessee collected a handful of individual awards and three Vanderbilt players were recognized as the Southeastern Conference announced its postseason women’s basketball awards Tuesday.

Holly Warlick was named the SEC coach of the year after she guided the Lady Vols to the regular-season championship in their first year without legendary coach Pat Summitt. Point guard Meighan Simmons shared player of the year honors with Kentucky’s A’dia Mathies. Clarksville native Bashaara Graves was named the league’s freshman of the year.

Both Simmons and Graves also earned first-team all-conference honors. Graves was also named to the all-freshman team.

Vanderbilt's leading scorer, Tiffany Clarke, a senior forward, was named to the all-conference first team. Point guard Jasmine Lister earned second-team accolades. Forward Heather Bowe was tabbed to the all-freshman team.

Vanderbilt is the No. 7 seed in the SEC Tournament and opens with No. 10 seed Missouri at 5 p.m. Thursday in Duluth, Ga. Top-seed Tennessee will play either Florida or Arkansas at 11 a.m. on Friday.