Big West Announces 2014-15 Men's Basketball Award Winners
2015 Big West Men's Basketball All-Conference Release
Big West regular season champion UC Davis claimed two coveted awards to highlight the announcement of the 2014-15 men’s basketball all-conference team as voted on by the nine head coaches. Aggie senior Corey Hawkins claimed Big West Player of the Year honors with Jim Les collecting Coach of the Year accolades. Gabe Vincent of UC Santa Barbara took home Freshman of the Year hardware while UC Riverside junior Jaylen Bland rounded out the marquee list as Newcomer of the Year.
Hawkins is the first UC Davis recipient of Big West Player of the Year honors. The 6-3 guard averaged 20.6 points per game to become the conference’s scoring champion for the second time in the last three seasons. Ranking No. 7 nationally in scoring, Hawkins has produced a league-best 14 games of 20 points or more, including two performances of 33 points against Idaho (Dec. 6) and 30 versus UC Irvine (Mar. 7). The Goodyear, Ariz. native also tops the nation in three-point field goal percentage, hitting at a 49.7 percent (73-of-147) clip. Hawkins, who earned Big West Newcomer of the Year honors in 2013 after transferring from Arizona State, also sits on the conference leaderboard in rebounding (13th - 5.1 rpg), field goal percentage (5th - .498), free throw percentage (5th - .829), assists (7th - 3.5 apg), steals (7th - 1.3 spg) and three-pointers per game (2nd - 2.9 pg). In conference games only, Hawkins averaged 20.8 points as a primary cog in helping UC Davis win its first Big West regular season title. He ranks No. 2 on the Aggie career scoring list with 1,623 points in just three seasons. Hawkins also collected two Big West Player of the Week honors this season to give him four career nods.
Les orchestrated one of the most successful turnarounds in conference history to secure his first Coach of the Year honor at UC Davis. Taking a program which finished 9-22 overall and missed the Big West Tournament last season, Les defied the prognosticators who tabbed the Aggies to finish seventh in the preseason media poll. Les guided UC Davis to a final regular season mark of 24-5 and the program’s inaugural Big West championship with a 14-2 record. The 15-win turnaround ranks as the second-highest in conference history, just one short of tying the all-time record. In addition, UC Davis became the first school in the Big West’s 46-year history to finish last one season and win the outright championship the next. The Aggies finished their home slate with an unblemished 14-0 record, and set Division I records for most overall and conference victories. Les takes the Aggies into the Big West Tournament as the No. 1 seed in search of the program’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament as a Division I member.
Vincent becomes the first Gaucho in 22 years to garner Freshman of the Year honors. He is the fourth UC Santa Barbara player – and first since Kyle Milling in 1993 – to be recognized as the league’s top freshman. The 6-3 guard ranks fourth on the squad in scoring at 10.2 points per game, and is one of the conference’s most accurate three-point shooters. Ranking No. 9 in the Big West in three-point field goal percentage (.413), he drained 52 threes, and his 2.1 per game average is sixth-best among conference players. The Stockton, Calif. native ranks No. 2 on the UCSB single-season list for most threes made by a freshman, and needs just seven more to establish the record. A starter in 18 of 25 games played, Vincent scored in double figures 13 times. He registered a career-high 25 points and tied his career best with five treys in a win at Hawai‘i on Mar. 4.
Bland, who once played at Murray State and later College of the Canyons, paid immediate dividends as he became the first Highlander to notch the Newcomer award. He ranked No. 7 in the Big West in scoring (15.8 ppg), and led the circuit with 94 three-pointers, 21 more than the next highest player in the rankings. Bland enters the Big West Tournament needing seven threes to break the program record of 100. The 6-3 guard also is one of the Big West’s top defensive players, ranking No. 5 in steals (1.43 pg). His 43 steals is two short of breaking the Highlander Division I single-season record. The Saginaw, Mich. native scored 20 or more points on seven occasions, led by a career-high 29 against regular season champion UC Davis on Jan. 15. He has hit at least one three in 27 consecutive games.
The All-Big West First Team features a pair of three-time selections – Long Beach State senior Mike Caffey and UC Santa Barbara senior Alan Williams. In addition, Hawkins from UC Davis made his second appearance on the first unit. Making their debuts on the all-league first team are UC Santa Barbara junior Michael Bryson, UC Irvine senior Will Davis II and UC Riverside junior Taylor Johns.
Of the 20 players who received first team, second team or honorable mention recognition, 11 have at least one year of eligibility remaining.
The complete 2014-15 Big West men’s basketball all-conference team can be accessed at the above link.