Monday, February 27, 2012
MACON, Ga. –2012 has been a season full of great team achievements and outstanding individual performances which continue to showcase the institutions and the outstanding student-athletes of the Atlantic Sun Conference. As attention zeroes in on the General Shale Brick Championship, the A-Sun is proud to recognize the top individual achievers of the season as voted on by the conference’s coaches.
Stetson’s Victoria McGowan validated her preseason hype after being named A-Sun Player of the Year. McGowan ranks in the A-Sun top-10 in nine different individual statistical categories including first in assists and second in scoring. The junior posted two triple-doubles, which leads the nation, this year including a 29-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist performance at the University Center against Mercer.
Crystal Bell received the A-Sun’s Defensive Player of the Year nod. The 5-9 senior led the A-Sun, averaging 2.9 steals per game and had at least four steals in five of the season’s final nine games. She set a new Jacksonville single season record for steals and ranks in the top-5 for a career in school history.
Kennesaw State’s Taylor Mills became the first Owl to earn A-Sun Freshman of the Year honors. The Knoxville, Tennessee native had to put the time in to take home the award. Mills averaged over 38 minutes per game and played all 40 minutes 16 times all while leading the team in scoring. Nationally, Mills ranks in the top-4 in minutes per game.
Karl Smesko’s peers recognized him as the league’s coach of the year after guiding Florida Gulf Coast to a perfect 18-0 conference record. In his 10th year at the helm, Smesko owns a career winning percentage of over 84% and has put the Eagles in consideration for an at-large bid after a 26-2 season that is highlighted by an 18-game win streak, only the third undefeated conference season in A-Sun history and a home win versus Big Ten power Michigan State.
McGowan headlines the five player All-Atlantic Sun first team.
FGCU’s Sarah Hansen led the conference’s most potent offense in scoring while also leading the team in steals to provide a steady defensive presence. In her two-years with the program, the Eagles have won two A-Sun regular season titles and 54 games overall. She was named Academic All-District for her success in the classroom.
Belmont’s Haley Nelson is one of the top post players in the Atlantic Sun. She led the conference in rebounding and blocked shots while finishing fourth in scoring. The senior’s defense was a big reason why the Bruins were among the NCAA leaders in defensive field goal percentage this season. For the year, Nelson notched 15 double-doubles.
Tee’Ara Copney locked up her spot on the first team after leading USC Upstate in scoring in 12 of the team’s final 16 games, highlighted by a 30-point outing at Mercer. The guard is shooting over 89 percent from the free throw line and ranks in the top-10 nationally.
The final member of the first team is North Florida’s Brittany Kirkland, her second straight season earning a spot. The senior is the A-Sun’s active career scoring leader with over 1500 career points and ranks in the top-20 in conference history in total points.