MACON, Ga. – A mix of the Atlantic Sun’s familiar faces and fresh stars make up the All-Atlantic Sun teams, led by Player of the Year Adnan Hodzic of Lipscomb, the conference office announced on Tuesday.
Hodzic leads a group of five that also Campbell’s Jonathan Rodriguez, Jacksonville’s Ben Smith and Mercer’s duo of James Florence and Daniel Emerson as repeat All-Conference performers. Hodzic and Smith return as First-Team performers while Rodriguez and Emerson earned First-Team honors after landing on the Second Team a season ago. Florence and Rodriguez became only the fourth and fifth players in league history, the first since College of Charleston’s Thaddeous Delaney, to earn All-Conference honors four straight years.
Hodzic finished the regular season atop the conference in scoring at 22.5 points per game. His averages ranks as the highest in the league since Mercer’s Reggie Elliott averaged 22.6 points during the 1995-96 season. The Sarajevo, Bosnia native topped double digits in scoring in every game and enters the General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Men’s Basketball Championship having topped double digits in 56 straight games, the longest active streak in the nation.
Smith and Rodriguez both helped their respective teams to shares of the regular-season crown and both earned their third First Team accolades of their careers. Smith became the Dolphins’ career leader in steals and enters the A-Sun Championship needing seven assists to set another record while Rodriguez established school records for scoring and rebounding. The senior forward became just the conference’s second 2,000-point, 1,000 rebound performer and set league records for free throws made and attempted.
Rodriguez’s teammate Junard Hartley earned the nod as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year. In addition to leading the conference in steals at 2.8 per game, the junior guard also led the league in assists at 6.1, becoming just the fourth player in A-Sun history to lead in both categories in a single year. Robbie Laing, who coached the Camels to their first regular-season title in the school’s Division I history and their most wins since posting 20 wins in 1993-94 overwhelmingly won his first A-Sun Coach of the Year honor.
Like Rodriguez, Florence broke his school’s scoring record, topping the mark set by Sam Mitchell in the 1980’s. The senior guard moved up to the second spot on the A-Sun’s all-time list. Emerson, a double-double machine, registered 20 during the regular season, including 10 in his last 11 games. The St. Mary’s, Ga. native needs just 12 rebounds to break the school and conference record for a single season, set by Scott Farley with 359 in 1995-96.
Josh Slater, Hodzic’s fellow junior at Lipscomb, headlines first-time All-Atlantic Sun honorees. Slater grabbed a spot on the First Team after he joined 2009 Player of the Year Alex Renfroe, of Belmont, as the only two players in the league in the last 10 years to average 15 points, five rebounds and five assists.
The Dolphins Lehmon Colbert, a consistent double-digit scorer since arriving in Jacksonville four seasons, made his first All-Conference team, placing on the Second Team. For four years, the forward teamed with Smith to become the most prolific scoring duo in school history. At ETSU, Tommy Hubbard had to pick up his production following the graduation of Kevin Tiggs and Courtney Pigram and the injuries to preseason All-Conference choice Mike Smith. Hubbard posted the highest scoring increase in the conference as he averaged 13.8 points per game, a season after averaging 4.0. The junior’s 13 double-doubles rank second to Emerson.
Two freshmen, Belmont’s Ian Clark and Kennesaw State’s Markeith Cummings round out the All-Atlantic Sun choices as both first-year stars landed on the Second Team. Both also claimed unanimous spots on the All-Freshman Team as the two led their respective teams in scoring. Cummings enters the A-Sun Championship with the third-best scoring average for a freshman in the country while Clark ranks fourth among freshmen with 70 3-point field goals. In a hotly contested battle, Clark edged out Cummings for the Freshman of the Year honor, becoming the second Bruin to claim the honor, joining Justin Hare, who won in 2004-05.
FGCU’s Anthony Banks, who like Clark and Cummings led his respective team in scoring, also garnered a unanimous spot on the All-Freshmen team. Stetson’s Ridge Graham and UNF’s Andy Diaz rounded out the squad.
The 2010 General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Men’s Basketball Championship tips off on Wednesday with Hodzic and Lipscomb taking on Kennesaw State at 2:30 p.m. Tickets to all Championship games are available at MercerBears.com. The only place to watch the Wednesday and Thursday quarterfinal action comes courtesy ASun.TV. All eight quarterfinal games, scheduled for noon, 2:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. will be offered for free.
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The Atlantic Sun Conference is an 11-member league committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun stands for achievement with integrity in both the academic and athletic arenas, with a focus on the balance between the two for our student-athletes. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Belmont University, Campbell University, East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.