LAFAYETTE — Louisiana-Lafayette’s Shawn Long was the most dominant men’s basketball player in the Sun Belt Conference this season, and the league’s coaches and media recognized him as such Tuesday.
Long, a senior forward from Morgan City, was named the Sun Belt Student-Athlete of the Year on Tuesday. Long is the nation’s second-leading rebounder, pulling down 12.9 boards per game. He led the league in blocks per game (1.9) and finished second in the conference in scoring (18.8) despite facing constant double teams.
“Shawn has had an outstanding season for us, and he continues to improve in his game,” coach Bob Marlin said. “The numbers that he put up while being double- and triple-teamed on a nightly basis is very impressive. He has been a tremendous rebounder among NCAA student-athletes, and he is the best I’ve ever coached. His maturity, leadership and hard work improved each year since his arrival on campus, culminating with him breaking UL and Sun Belt Conference records. I’m very proud of Shawn and what he has accomplished during his career here at UL.”
He wrapped up the regular season as the conference’s all-time leader in rebounds and became the first player in league history to score 2,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds. Long could move as high as third on Louisiana-Lafayette’s all-time scoring list, and he already holds school records for blocks and rebounds.
Long, the league’s Freshman of the Year after the 2012-13 season, also earned first-team all-conference honors for the third consecutive season.
First-year Little Rock coach Chris Beard was named the Coach of the Year after guiding the Trojans to a 27-4 record. Georgia Southern’s Tookie Brown was the Newcomer of the Year after averaging 17.6 points for the Eagles; he also was the fourth freshman in league history to earn first-team all-conference recognition.
Veal, Wilridge honored
Cajuns women’s basketball senior guards Keke Veal and Kia Wilridge, who have been teammates since their days at St. Thomas More, earned All-Sun Belt recognition.
“Kia and Keke’s presence on both ends of the floor have been such a vital part of our success this season,” coach Garry Brodhead said. “They are two kids who I have seen grow and mature as both adults and student-athletes over the years. We are excited to see how far their leadership and presence will take us in the postseason.”
Veal was named to the league’s first team for the first time in her career after averaging a career-high 17 points. She finished the regular season as the school’s third-leading career scorer (1,548).
Wilridge made the second team after averaging 11.5 points and a team-best 5.2 rebounds.
Arkansas State’s Aundrea Gamble was the Student-Athlete of the Year for the third consecutive year after scoring 18.4 points and handing out 4.7 assists for a Red Wolves squad that lost just once in league play. Gamble’s coach, Brian Boyer, was the Coach of the Year.