CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
The 2017-18 season saw two of the state's Division II programs make it further in the NCAA Tournament than ever before, a Hall of Fame coach guide an injury-plagued group into March Madness, and several other surprise programs and players burst onto the scene.
CoBL's staff was keeping a close eye on the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC)'s Eastern Division and the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC)'s South Division -- as well as one CIAA school, Lincoln -- all year long, and have come up our picks for all-area player of the year, all-area teams as well as all-rookie and coach of the year honors.
Without further ado, our Division II awards for 2017-18:
Shippensburg's Dustin Sleva (above) is the 2017-18 CoBL Division II Player of the Year. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
Player of the Year
Dustin Sleva (Sr./PF/Shippensburg)
When Sleva and his fellow Shippensburg seniors first arrived on campus in the fall of 2014, they were joining a program that had won just three games the year before, that hadn’t had a winning season in seven years, that hadn’t won a Pennsylvania State Athletics Conference (PSAC) title since 1991.
And all they did in the following four years was win 85 games, a PSAC championship (in 2017) and a total of three games in the NCAA Tournament, making it to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history this spring.
“This senior class signed up to come here when we were coming off a 3-23 season, which says something about them, and their belief in themselves, and their work ethic to have taken the program from where it was to the heights that it’s out now,” Ship head coach Chris Fite told CoBL, “and a lot of is that is due to Dustin.”
A western Pennsylvania native and graduate of Montour High School, Sleva put together a resumé better than any Raiders player before him.
The 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward who could score inside and out with ease finished as the program record-holder in points (2,071), rebounds (1,140) and double-doubles (58), third in career 3-pointers (187) and as one of just four players in PSAC history to finish with more than 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
A two-time NABC All-American, he shot 52 percent from the floor and 39.2 percent from the 3-point line for his career, averaging 21.4 ppg and 10.8 rpg during his senior campaign. That followed up on a junior year where he averaged 21.7 ppg and 11.0 rpg, giving him 1,380 points and 536 rebounds in his final two seasons alone.
“I think what’s particularly impressive is how consistent he’s been throughout the last two years,” Fite said, “with the team having a target on its collective back as well as him targeted as one of the main players to shut down. For him to have maintained the numbers that he has with receiving that attention defensively says a lot about his game and his versatility.”
Sleva isn’t the only senior that Fite will need to replace off this year’s Sweet 16 squad; Justin McCarthur (17.0 ppg) and Clay Connor (8.4 ppg) both exhaust their eligibility, and the Raiders will miss all three of them. But there’s no doubt that these last four years of Ship rejuvenation will be known as the Sleva Era -- and with younger brother Dom Sleva redshirting as a freshman this season, it’s one that might have a few years left.
Steve Harris (R-Sr./C/East Stroudsburg)
East Stroudsburg’s 10-man rotation all averaged double-figure minutes while missing a combined six games out of the group, so to say the Warriors had depth might be an understatement. But Harris, the team’s leader and fifth-year big man, averaged 15.4 ppg and 7.3 rpg despite only playing 25.5 mpg, plugging the middle on a team that set program marks with 27 wins and an NCAA Elite 8 appearance; he also had more assists (39) than turnovers (37) and hit 65.8 percent of his shots, and was named the PSAC Tournament MVP. The 6-7, 230-pound Notre Dame (N.J.) grad finished his career with 1,080 points and 668 rebounds.
Anthony Lee (above) shot above 50 percent from the 3-point line this year to average over 21 ppg. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Anthony Lee (R-Jr./G/Kutztown)
A two-sport star at Abington HS (basketball & football), some injuries kept Lee from being a true standout on the hardwood until college. But the fourth-year junior, a hyper-athletic 6-3 wing, is a two-way force, averaging 21.5 ppg and hitting 51.6 percent of his 3-pointers (83-of-161) this season while also chipping in 5.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game; he also hit 86.8 percent from the foul line. He’s already at 1,470 career points (sixth in KU-history, but over 900 points behind Stephen Dennis’ record of 2,406) and 448 career rebounds heading into his senior year.
Tyrell Long (Sr./SF/West Chester)
A 1,000-point scorer during his high school years at Philly’s Bishop McDevitt, Long spent his first two seasons averaging around five points per contest, then averaged 17.8 ppg last season but only in 18 games. The 6-5, 185-pound wing put it all together this year, averaging a career-best 18.9 ppg plus 7.1 rpg and 3.0 apg, leading the Rams in the first two categories as they won 22 games and the first NCAA Tournament victory in program history. Finished his career with 1,096 points and 490 rebounds, becoming the 25th member of WCU’s 1,000-point club (23rd-highest).
Christian Mortellite (R-Sr./F/Bloomsburg)
The all-time leading scorer in Bloomsburg history, Mortellite became the first Huskie men’s player to ever pass the 2,000-point banner, finishing with 2,037 in his standout career. The 20.5 ppg he averaged as a senior was actually a slight tick down from junior year (20.5), but he set new career bests in rebounds (6.6/game), assists (2.6/game) and several other categories. He also hit 40 percent of his 3-point attempts, making it all four years he he hit that benchmark. The Hammonton (N.J.) native’s presence won’t totally be gone next year; his younger brother Peyton was a sparingly-used redshirt-freshman this season.
Nick Richards (Sr./G/Wilmington)
Richards, who played his high school ball at Hodgson Vo-Tech (Del.), was a scoring machine for Wilmington this past season, averaging 20.6 ppg to finish second in the CACC. The 6-foot-4 guard reached double figures in all but two of the 22 games he played in. He scored 30-or-more points three times, including a 34-point outing at Goldey-Beacom on Feb. 18. In addition to scoring, Richards also led Wilmington in steals (2.3/game) and finished second in rebounding (6.3/game) and assists (3.8/game) to earn first team all-CACC honors.
Corey Taite (Jr./G/Goldey-Beacom)
As one of the team’s three captains, Taite helped lead Goldey-Beacom to a historic season, winning the CACC South division’s regular season title for the first time since 2012 and tying the program record with 20 wins. Taite averaged 19.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.5 apg and 2.2 spg to win CACC Player of the Year. He’s the first Lightning player to ever win the award. Already 19th in the Goldey-Beacom scoring history after two seasons, Taite moved up to fourth on the all-time list this season, ending the year with 1,236 career points.
Marcus Adkison (Jr./G/Millersville)
After spending his freshman year at Shepherd, Adkison has fit right in at Millersville, leading the Marauders in scoring each of the last two seasons. A 5-11 guard out of St. Andrew’s Episcopal (Va.), the all-PSAC Second Team pick averaged 18.4 ppg this season, making 46.6 percent of his shots and 41.9 percent of his 3-pointers (75-or-179) plus 86.7 percent from the line, plus 2.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.1 seals per game.
The CACC Defensive Player of the Year, Flo Da-Silva grabbed 7.9 rpg and 2.8 spg to go along with 12.8 ppg. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Flo Da-Silva (Sr./G/USciences)
While his brother, Sho, was much more of a scorer for the Devils, Da-Silva put together a solid all-around career, which he capped with an impressive senior campaign. The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 12.8 ppg and 4.1 apg, but his defense numbers are what stood out. He grabbed 7.9 rpg from the guard spot and averaged 2.8 spg, which ranked fourth in Division II. Da-Silva’s defensive prowess did not go unnoticed as he took home his second consecutive CACC Defensive Player of the Year award.
Jermaine Head (R-So./G/Wilmington)
Head and Richards were a tough duo to stop this year. After redshirting last season, Head made an immediate impact on the CACC, winning the league’s Rookie of the Year. In his first year with Wilmington, he averaged 18.5 ppg, 5.3 ppg and 2.1 spg. Head’s play was particularly strong down the stretch when he scored 20-or-more points in the team’s last six games, averaging 24.2 ppg in those contests.
Amir Hinton (Soph./SG/Lock Haven)
Arguably the most talented scorer around -- his 23.4 ppg were 10th in Division II -- Hinton poured 1,227 points in his first two years of college basketball, but he’ll have to make his march towards 2,000 somewhere else. The Abington grad announced his decision to transfer shortly after the season ended, and they’ll need to replace not only his scoring but 6.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.4 steals per game as well.
Kaison Randolph (Sr./G/Jefferson)
Following up a first team all-conference selection as a junior, Randolph saw his numbers dip a little bit (16.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.6 apg), but he couldn’t have been more important for the Rams. The senior rarely left the court as he led Division II in minutes per game, averaging 39.7 per contest. He played 40-or-more minutes in 24 of Jefferson’s 35 games, including 50 minutes in a double overtime game against Franklin & Pierce. Randolph also made the two biggest shots of Jefferson’s season, hitting a pair of free throws in the final seconds of the CACC title game to send Jefferson to the NCAA Tournament with a 59-58 win against Dominican (N.Y.).
Ethan Ridgeway (Sr./PG/Kutztown)
One of the more dominant on-ball forces in the area, the 5-10 West Chester Rustin grad was the Division II leader in assists per game (8.2), to go along with 17.4 ppg and 3.7 rpg; only high turnover (4.4/game) and low 3-point shooting (22.5 percent) numbers kept him off our first team. He’s the Kutztown assist record-holder for game (16), season (260) and career (687), and is No. 13 on the school’s all-time scoring list (1,271).
Will Gregorits (Sr./F/USciences)
The third team all-CACC performer became just the sixth player in program history to receive all-conference honors multiple times in his career. After averaging 15.1 ppg and 9.6 rpg, he became the 13th highest scorer in program history with 1,468 career points.
Alexander Gorton (Fr./G/Jefferson)
The top freshman in the area took some of the offensive pressure off Randolph in his first year on campus. Gorton, a 6-foot-3 guard, averaged 16.9 ppg and 4.6 rpg. Like Randolph, he rarely left the floor, ranking third in Division II with 39.1 minutes per game.
Jackson Hyland (Jr./SF/West Chester)
Kennett (Pa.) native has quietly become an integral piece for West Chester, averaging 16.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg and 2.6 apg, while hitting just over 50 percent overall, 33 percent from deep and 75 percent from the charity stripe; he enters his senior year just 78 points from 1,000.
Justin McCarthur (Sr./G/Shippensburg)
All-PSAC second-teamer was a 3-point specialist, knocking down 42.9 percent (97-of-226) from long range, putting him 28th in percentage and 33rd in the country in triples per game (3.03); that was a major reason he averaged 17.0 ppg, plus 3.7 apg and 2.2 rpg.
Frank Rokins (Jr./SF/West Chester)
The junior college transfer made a major two-way impact in his first year at West Chester, averaging 11.4 ppg and 6.8 rpg while bringing plenty of toughness in his 6-3 frame; changed the tone defensively as well for the Rams, who increased their win total by eight.
Dante Thompson (Sr./F/Goldey-Beacom)
Another one of Goldey-Beacom’s three captains, Thompson finished second on the team in scoring (12.2 ppg) and first in rebounding (8.1 rpg). In his second year with the Lightning after transferring from Lackawanna College, the 6-foot 7 forward earned third team all-CACC honors.
Bloomsburg: Khary Mauras (Soph.), Kyle-Michael Rose (Sr.)
Cheyney: Jeff Lewis (R-Soph.)
East Stroudsburg: Nick Giordano (Jr.), Jakwan Jones (R-Jr.), Kobi Nwandu (Soph.)
Kutztown: Rafiq Marshall (Sr.), Moe Williams (R-Fr.)
Lock Haven: Ra’eese Hunt (R-Sr.)
Mansfield: Malik Carter (Sr.), Jeremiah Worthem (R-Sr.)
Millersville: Jordan Greene (Sr.)
Shippensburg: John Castello (Soph.), Antonio Kellem (Jr.)
West Chester: Matt Penecale (Jr.)
Chestnut Hill: Demetrius Isaac (Sr.)
Georgian Court: Caleb Bowser (Soph.), Juwuan Carter (Sr.)
Goldey-Beacom: Mahir Johnson (Jr.)
Holy Family: Terrell Jones (Fr.)
Jefferson: Yevgen Sakhniuk (Sr.)
USciences: Brendan Crawford (Jr.)
Wilmington: Miles Gillette (Soph.)
Lincoln: Gevon Arrington (Jr.)
Jefferson's Alex Gorton (above) slid right into a starting role for a Rams squad that was wrecked by injuries but still made the NCAA Tournament. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Rookie of the Year
Alexander Gorton (Jefferson)
The 6-foot-3 guard out of Arkansas took a prep year at The Skill Factory in Georgia before coming to Jefferson this fall. Gorton started the season strong with two 20-point games in his first three college appearances and did not let up for the rest of the season. He averaged 16.9 ppg, which led the Rams and placed him eighth in the CACC. He also shot an impressive 46 percent from the floor and 38 percent from 3-point range.
Not only did Gorton put together a sparkling freshman campaign, he also did it for a Jefferson squad that was battling for first place in the CACC South Division for most of the season and eventually took home the CACC Tournament title. He scored 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting in the team’s season-ending NCAA Tournament loss to Le Moyne.
All-Rookie First Team
Terrell Jones (Holy Family)
The Lower Merion product made his impact felt right away, leading the Tigers in scoring at 14.7 ppg, while shooting 37.4 percent from the floor. The 6-5 wing started 26 games for Holy Family, averaging 5.7 rpg and 2.4 apg.
Moe Williams (Kutztown)
Versatile 6-7 wing out of Life Center (N.J.) redshirted last season and played like a veteran in his first year of college ball, averaging 10.9 ppg and 8.7 rpg (6th in PSAC), making 57.4 percent of his shots but just 44.9 percent from the foul line.
Caden Najdawi (Millersville)
Najdawi had a promising start to his college career, with an 18-point, 10-rebound debut against Notre Dame (Ohio). And the 6-8, 195-pound forward from Chesterfield (Va.) proved that was no fluke, averaging 9.5 ppg and 5.6 rpg while hitting 51.8 percent from the floor in 26 appearances, with 22 starts.
Paddy Casey (USciences)
Casey, a 6-1 guard out of Scranton Prep, played big minutes, averaging 36.2 mpg in his freshman campaign. The sharpshooter averaged 11.3 ppg, while shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range.
Matt Cerruti (Lock Haven)
An Archbishop Wood product, Cerruti started nine games at various points throughout his freshman season, averaging 10.9 ppg and 4.0 rpg while hitting 39.4 percent from 3-point range (37-of-94) in 26 contests and 48.4 percent overall.
Evan-Eric Longino (West Chester)
Michael Power (Holy Family)
Marc Rodriguez (East Stroudsburg)
Danny Walsh (Wilmington)
Jeff Wilson (above) led East Stroudsburg on its deepest NCAA Tournament run yet. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Coach of the Year
Jeff Wilson, East Stroudsburg
Wilson’s East Stroudsburg program has been one of the area’s best over the last decade, but the program put together something special during the 2018 campaign. After losing his top two scorers from the 2016-17 squad, Wilson had his work cut out for him just to turn a somewhat inexperienced squad into a PSAC East contender.
It took some time to figure out, but the Warriors did not lose a game after January, reeling off seven straight to win the PSAC East title and picking up three more to win the PSAC Tournament championship. As the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Region, East Stroudsburg took down Gannon, West Chester and Shippensburg to advance to the first Elite Eight in program history. After a79-71 loss to Northern State in the Elite Eight, Wilson’s team finished the season 27-6, 18-4 PSAC, which marked the second most wins in program history.
Herb Magee, Jefferson
Damien Blair, West Chester