Alex Avery voted SAA Player of the Year, Graves is Coach of the Year

Alex Avery (photo by Jimmy Mitchell)
Alex Avery (photo by Jimmy Mitchell)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Following exclusive voting by the head coaches of the Southern Athletic Association, senior forward Alex Avery has been named the SAA Men's Basketball Player of the Year and BSC coach Chris Graves is the Coach of the Year, it was announced today. Additionally, five players earned All-Conference honors.

Avery, from Morganton, N.C., enjoyed a rare statistical season in which he led the undefeated in conference play Panthers in points, rebounds, and assists. The multi-dimensional Avery topped the SAA in rebounds per game (11.1) and assists per game (3.8) as he demonstrated a knack for either scoring on his own or drawing the defense and finding an open teammate. His 13.7 points per game in conference contests ranked fifth best and his shooting percentage of .527 checked in at sixth overall. Playing under 30 minutes per contest, Avery accomplished these statistical highlights while averaging just the 18th best in the SAA in minutes played.

Graves managed to navigate his Panther squad unscathed through the conference schedule to produce the league's first undefeated regular season title and his first SAA Coach of the Year honor. Under Graves' leadership, the Panthers clinched the league championship weeks ago and carry a fifteen-game winning streak heading into the SAA Tournament. Having just completed his fifth season as Birmingham-Southern head coach, Graves, a Ft. Worth, Texas, native, attended Lake Country Christian High School and went on to earn his B.S. degree in Education from John Brown University in 1999.

Avery also earned a spot on the All-SAA First Team, while junior guard Ian Thom earned Second-Team honors. Senior Ross Welch, junior Evan Lewis, and sophomore Harrison Deneka were named Honorable Mention All-Conference.

The honors mark BSC's third straight year of receiving a top conference award, as Larry Thomas was named Player of the Year in 2015 and 2014.

Centre's Tyler Wesley was named Defensive Player of the Year for the third straight season, and Sewanee's Cody Jones was voted Newcomer of the Year.