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Bucs’ Nimley and Harper named All-Big South

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Charleston Southern guards Saah Nimley and Arlon Harper have been named to the 2013 All-Big South Conference teams in a vote by the League's head coaches and media panel, it was announced Sunday afternoon by the Conference office. 

Nimley earned first-team honors, while Harper was named to the second team after leading Charleston Southern to its first Big South title in 26 seasons. Fellow Buc Paul Gombwer earned a spot on the Big South All-Academic Team.

The duo keyed one of the best seasons in CSU history, leading the 17-11 Buccaneers to a conference title and a postseason berth. CSU locked up at least an NIT berth with a 75-64 win over rival-Coastal Carolina on Saturday night in the Buc Dome. The Bucs also won eight-straight games during the season, the third-longest streak in school history. 

Nimley, the second-lead vote getter who also received three first-place votes, led the Bucs in scoring, rebounding, and assists in Big South play, turning in one of the top all-around seasons in CSU history. The sophomore poured in 16.0 points per game and averaged 5.2 assists. His big games seemed to carry the Bucs to key wins throughout the season, especially on the road. 

Nimley had 23 points and 13 rebounds in the Bucs' 79-75 win at Liberty in January. He earned Big South Player of the Week honors after averaging 24.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in road wins over the Flames and Presbyterian. He had five double-doubles on the season, two coming by way of assists and three on rebounds. He led the Bucs with twelve 20-point games. 

The Bucs' point guard has 135 assists on the year, the seventh most in school history, despite missing two games. 

Harper was one of the most explosive and efficient players in the Big South throughout the Bucs' championship season. He finished in the Top 10 of the league in points (14.7 per game) and field-goal percentage (46.8), while becoming one of the top defensive players in the league s well. He was third in the Big South averaging just over two steals per game. 

The sophomore had four-straight games with 20 points or more beginning in late November and was at his best during CSU's eight-game win streak, the third longest in CSU history. He poured in a career high 30 points in the Bucs 102-74 win over The Citadel. He followed with 25 points in a one-sided Bucs' win at East Tennessee State. Over the two games, he was 20-of-28 from the floor and 9-of-10 from three-point range. 

Nimley and Harper were both preseason selections. 

CSU's Paul Gombwer was named to the Big South All-Academic Team. The sophomore is a Sociology major with a minor in Communications. He has a 3.52 GPA and has twice been named to CSU's Dean's List. He is also the Bucs' leading rebounder and had 14 points and 12 rebounds on Wednesday night at Gardner-Webb, both career highs. 

The Buccaneers open VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Basketball Championship play on Thursday at noon at the HTC Center in Conway, S.C. CSU is the No. 1 seed from the South Division and will face the winner of No. 4 Radford and No. 5 Winthrop, who meet on Tuesday. 

VMI senior forward Stan Okoye and Gardner-Webb head coach Chris Holtmann have been voted the 2012-13 Big South Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Year and Coach of the Year, respectively. High Point forward John Brown Freshman of the Year and VMI junior forward D.J. Covington as the League's Defensive Player of the Year. Liberty guard John Caleb Sanders was voted Scholar-Athlete of the Year. 

Okoye (Raleigh, N.C.) is the first Keydet to be voted the Conference's Men's Basketball Player of the Year since VMI joined the Big South in 2003-04. Okoye finished the regular-season as the League's scoring leader with 21.5 points and was tops in rebounding with 9.2, and could become just the fifth player in Big South history to lead both categories in the same season.

The only player in Big South history with 2,000 career points (2,103), 900 career rebounds (939) and 100 career blocked shots (101), Okoye received 17 first-place votes and 260 total points from the panel, ahead of Charleston Southern's Saah Nimley (three first-place votes and 222 points). 

Holtmann earns his first Big South Men's Basketball Coach of the Year honor after leading the Runnin' Bulldogs to a second-place finish in the Big South's South Division with a 11-5 mark -- the squad's best Conference record since joining the League in 2008-09.  Holtmann's club won a League-high 20 games overall in 2012-13 -- the program's most wins as a Division I member. 

Brown (Jacksonville, Fla.) was the Big South's top scoring freshman during the regular-season at 16.4 points per game and he entered the final week of the regular-season as the nation's fifth-leading freshman scorer.  

Covington (Virginia Beach, Va.) averaged 3.03 blocked shots during the regular-season as he recorded a career-high 88 blocks in 29 games this season. 

Sanders (Sugar Land, Texas) is a 3.40 student in business management.  He appeared in 31 contests, including 27 starts this season, and leads the Flames with 13.8 points and 107 assists. 

Joining Okoye and Nimley on the All-Conference First-Team are Brown, Coastal Carolina's Anthony Raffa and UNC Asheville's Jeremy Atkinson.  Brown is the first freshman to be named First-Team All-Conference since Coastal Carolina's Tony Dunkin in 1989-90 and just the second in Big South history.  The entire 2012-13 All-Conference team is as follows:

 

First-Team All-Conference

Stan Okoye, F, Sr., VMI

Saah Nimley, G, Soph., Charleston Southern

Anthony Raffa, G, R-Sr., Coastal Carolina

John Brown, F., R-Fr., High Point

Jeremy Atkinson, F., Sr., UNC Asheville

 

Second-Team All-Conference

Allan Chaney, F., Gr., High Point

Tashan Newsome, G, R-Sr., Gardner-Webb

Trey Freeman, G, Soph., Campbell

Javonte Green, F., Soph., Radford

Arlon Harper, G, Soph., Charleston Southern

 

All-Freshman Team

John Brown, F, High Point

Michael Kessens, F, Longwood

Will Weeks, F, UNC Asheville

Adam Weary, G, High Point

Rashun Davis, G, Radford

 

All-Academic Team

Darren White, F, Sr., Campbell

Paul Gombwer, F, Soph., Charleston Southern

Tyler Strange, G, Soph., Gardner-Webb

John Caleb Sanders, G, Jr., Liberty

Stephen Shockley, G, Sr., Longwood

Kyle Noreen, F, Soph., Radford

Keith Hornsby, G, Soph., UNC Asheville

Stan Okoye, F, Sr., VMI

Derrick Henry, G, Soph., Winthrop

 

Player of the Year

Stan Okoye, F, Sr., VMI

 

Freshman of the Year

John Brown, F, High Point

 

Defensive Player of the Year

D.J. Covington, F, Jr., VMI

 

Coach of the Year

Chris Holtmann, Gardner-Webb

 

Scholar-Athlete of the Year

John Calen Sanders, G, Jr., Liberty

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