March 3, 2010
Rome, Ga. - Shorter College junior forward Marqise Wright was named the Southern States Athletic Conference Newcomer of the Year and the Hawks placed an SSAC-best seven athletes on the conference's All-Academic team as announced during the league's pre-tournament awards banquet on Wednesday night at The Forum in Rome.
Wright, a junior from Gainesville, Ga., was joined on the SSAC All-Conference team by Hawks' senior guard Jerrenda Wheeler.
Sophomore guard Darius Steger was Shorter's recipient of the Musco Lighting Champion of Character Award and was accompanied by teammates Jacob Chandler, Justin Gentry, Mantas Leonavicius, Brodrick Walker, Jamie Walker and Tyler Watkins on the 13-member, All-Academic squad.
Wright, who was a strong candidate for SSAC Player of the Year after transferring from Crichton College over the summer, put up incredibly gaudy numbers in his first year with the Hawks.
The 6-foot-6 lefty was the only player to rank in the top five of the SSAC in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage while leading the league in double-doubles with 19 - 13 more than the next player.
While he averaged a double-double of 15.1 points and 11.8 rebounds per game overall, Wright posted 19.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists in conference play.
The three-time SSAC Player of the Week ranks No. 1 in the nation in defensive rebounds per game, second in the country in both total rebounds and rebounding average and 11th in the SSAC in blocks.
Wright enjoyed consecutive double-double streaks of six and eight games during the regular campaign, shot over 32 percent from three, twice eclipsed the 20-rebound plateau and averaged 20.0 points and 13.8 rebounds in four total games against the SSAC's No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, Lee University and Southern Poly State, respectively.
Wheeler, who also came to Shorter for his final season of eligibility from Crichton, spearheaded a potent Hawks' attack from his point guard position.
The Gainesville native ranks seventh in the SSAC and second on the team in scoring at just over 14 points per game while also ranking second in the SSAC and sixth in the country in assists per game (5.9).
Wheeler recorded two double-doubles, reached double figures in 25 of Shorter's 29 games, dished out at least eight assists on eight separate occasions, ranked fourth in the SSAC in field goal percentage and averaged 15.0 points per game in SSAC play.
Also a top candidate for SSAC Defensive Player of the Year, Wheeler ranked 11th in the league in steals per game (1.3) and total steals.
Shorter's on-court accomplishments were impressive in their own right, but its off-court accolades shined even brighter on Wednesday night.
The Hawks made up over half of the SSAC's All-Academic team, with Chandler, Gentry, Leonavicius, Steger and Watkins earning their first such honor.
Jamie Walker, a senior from Bremen, Ga., secured All-Academic accolades for the second consecutive year and Brodrick Walker, also a senior who hails from Stone Mountain, became a three-time SSAC All-Academic honoree - he was an NAIA Scholar-Athlete in 2008-09.
Lee University head coach Tommy Brown took home SSAC Coach of the Year honors and Southern Poly State senior point guard Jas Rogers won SSAC Player of the Year accolades.
Auburn University-Montgomery senior forward Nate Thomas captured SSAC Defensive Player of the Year while his teammate Stephan Jordan was named the league's Sixth Man of the Year.
The Hawks (17-12), the No. 6-seed in the 2010 SSAC Men's Basketball Championships, will take on third-seeded Auburn-Montgomery (13-12) in the quarterfinal round tomorrow, March 4, at 2:30 p.m. at The Forum.