This morning, the Northeast Conference announced on Twitter their All-NEC selections as well as named their major award winners for this season. LIU Brooklyn’s Jamal Olasewere was named 2012-13 NEC Player of the Year. He was also named to the All-NEC first team for the second straight season. Junior point guard Jason Brickman was named to the All-NEC second team for the second straight season. Senior guard C.J. Garner was named to the All-NEC third team for his first All-NEC honor. Freshman forward E.J. Reed was named to the All-NEC rookie team.
The 6’7″ senior forward had a tremendous season. Olasewere played in 28 games this season while averaging 19.2 points per game (tied for 22rd in the nation), 8.4 rebounds per game, and shooting 51% from the field. His 25.3 points per 40 minutes played is ranked 11th in the nation. In the 16 NEC games Olasewere played this season, third in the conference in scoring (19.6 ppg), second in rebounding (9.2 rpg), and fifth in field goal percentage (54.9%). He made and attempted the most free throws of any NEC player this season (163-235). He also finished the regular season as the third best player in the nation in fouls drawn per 40 minutes at 7.9. He help carry this LIU team after Julian Boyd was lost for the season on December 12th to a torn ACL on his knee. He scored 20 or more points twelve times this season and had ten double-doubles. In his final regular-season game on Senior Day, an emotional Olasewere went off for a career-high 33 points against Quinnipiac. Olasewere could finish as LIU all-time men’s basketball leading scorer with 27 more points in the NEC tournament. He has over 1800 points and 900 rebounds for this career at LIU. He is an amazing player that is going to be missed after this season.
This honor for Olasewere gives LIU Brooklyn back-to-back NEC Player of the Year award recipients with Julian Boyd having won the award last season. This is now the third occasion LIU was won back-to-back NEC Player of Year but the first time it has given to two different player. This is the first time LIU Brooklyn has gotten back-to-back NEC Player of the Year awards since scoring machine Charles Jones won it back-to-back himself back in 1997 and 1998. Carey Scurry also won back-to-back NEC Player of the Years back in 1984 and 1985. The last school to win back-to-back NEC Player of the Year was Robert Morris back in 2008 & 2009 when Tony Lee and Jeremy Chappell won it.
Also honored today was freshman E.J. Reed as he was named to the All-NEC Rookie team. Reed was in the running for NEC Rookie of the Year but just missed out to Mount St. Mary’s Shivaughn Wiggins. Reed though had a very good freshman season. Reed played in all 30 games for LIU this season including two starts. He averaged 7.7 points per game and grabbed 4.0 rebounds per game in 19.2 minutes per game this season. He shot 50% from the field and shot a very respectable 37.5% from three. He scored in double digits in ten games this season including in a stretch of five straight games from December 29th to January 12th. His best game came at Mount St. Mary’s where he scored a career-high 25 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. You could likely see Reed moving into the starting lineup next season with three forward seniors departing.
Senior C.J. Garner was named to the All-NEC third team. The 5’10” scoring flash has been instrumental to LIU’s success this season. Garner for the season is averaging 14.8 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game and 2.6 assists per game. He is shooting nearly 49% from the field and unraveled a three-point shot which he has made 45% of this season. Garner scored 20 or more points six times this season and all doing NEC play. He scored in double figures in all but two NEC games this season. His 30 points vs Quinnipiac on Senior Day was a career-high. This season he reached the 1000-point plateau for his LIU career. One of the hardest guys in the NEC to stop in the open court.
Junior Jason Brickman was named to the All-NEC second team. I thought he deserved All-NEC first team selection (which went instead to RMU’s Velton Jones). Nevertheless, Brickman had another great year for the Blackbirds. The 6’0″ assist machine from San Antonio started in all 30 games for LIU. He has played the most minutes on this year’s team (36.4 mpg). He averaged for the season 9.6 points per game and is the nation’s assist leader at 8.5 assists per game. He is also shooting 45.6% from the floor including a NEC-third best 45.8% from beyond the arc. Brickman collected ten double-double in points and assists. He matched his career-high of 19 points three times this season and had a season-high 13 assist game vs St. Francis (PA). Brickman was named by ESPN’s Jay Bilas as one of the best passers in the nation and if you want him every game like I have, it is hard to argue. The guy is a great floor general and one of the best passers I have ever seen.
Honorable mention goes to LIU head coach Jack Perri. He didn’t win NEC Coach of the Year as it deservingly went to Bryant’s Tim O’Shea but Perri had to deal with a whole lot in his first year as a Division I head coach. Perri had to deal with his players off the court issues and player suspensions. He had to deal with losing his star player for most of the season and all of the NEC season. He had to deal with two separate long losing streaks yet he got them to finish third in the conference and with a couple of bounces here and there versus Robert Morris and Wagner, this team could have been a one-seed once again. The job him and his staff did to get LIU to 12 conference wins this season was amazing when back in December and early January, this looked like a lost season. Perri got LIU in position to have a decent shot at a run for the NEC three-peat and for that I congratulate him.