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DAVIS, Calif. - An outstanding season for UC Davis basketball continued on Monday when conference officials announced this year’s All-Big West award recipients. In addition to earning a spot on the First Team, junior communication major TJ Shorts II is the conference’s Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year. For the second season in a row, junior communication major Siler Schneider and senior communication major Chima Moneke earned all-league distinction as part of the BWC’s Second Team and Honorable Mention lists. And for the second time in the last four seasons, head coach Jim Les is the Coach of the Year.
No school earned more All-Big West accolades than UC Davis, as voted on by the conference's head coaches, and announced by league officials on Monday.
As the BWC’s regular season champion, UC Davis earned an automatic bid at the National Invitation Tournament, and will begin its defense of the Big West Tournament title as this year’s No. 1 seed.
Shorts II, the Big West’s first-ever Newcomer and Player of the Year dual award winner, set a new single-season Division I program record — he has 59 steals and counting — the same night UC Davis won its third conference title in the last four years with a double-overtime victory at UC Irvine.
In addition to leading the league with his 2.0 steals per game average, the 41st-highest in the country, the Tustin native’s 59 steals ranks him No. 39 among all players nationwide. Entering this week’s Big West Tournament, he also holds top percentages in another three categories: Free Throw Attempts (No. 40, 197), Free Throws Made (No. 51, 147) and Field Goal Percentage (No. 65, .536).
At Cal Poly, he posted the second triple-double in the team’s D-I era (and the first in nearly a decade), when he finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists at Cal Poly. In that triple-overtime victory, no player spent more time on the court than him (50 minutes).
But it was his outstanding play when it mattered the most that ultimately led to Shorts II winning the league’s top two individual awards. Including two game-winning shots — his running three lifted the Aggies to a 105-104 2OT victory at Long Beach State (watch: http://bit.ly/GameWinneratLongBeachState), which was followed three weeks later with another buzzer-beater vs. UC Riverside (watch: http://bit.ly/GameWinnerVsUCRiverside) — he posted attention-grabbing statistics that made it impossible to choose anyone else for those honors.
Over the last four weeks of the season, Shorts II averaged 21.0 points and 5.8 steals per game, both team highs, shot .566 from the floor, .400 from three, and .788 at the line. Of his 130 assists collected this season, 35 percent (46) took place throughout the team’s final eight games of the regular season.
Schneider, last year’s Best Sixth Player and all-conference selection earned additional league honors with his consistent play throughout the year. The team’s captain ended his junior season ranked No. 9 among all BWC players in scoring at 14.3 points per game, and No. 10 with his 1.2 steals per game figure.
As was the case with his teammate, the native of Lansing, Kansas stepped up his game during league play. In addition to his suffocating defense, Schneider’s 15.6 ppg average against league teams is the seventh-highest total in the Big West. He also earned a spot on the conference’s top 10 with his 2.9 assists per game mark.
Among all Aggies, Schneider held one of the top two statistics in seven different categories, numbers that prove just how versatile this third-year talent is: total points, field goals made, three-point field goals made, assists and steals.
Second Team honors is Schneider’s latest highlight of the year; on Feb. 8, in front of a home crowd, he became the 23rd player in the program’s 106-year history to reach the 1,000 career-point milestone (watch: http://bit.ly/SchneiderScores1000).
Also earning All-Big West accolades for the second consecutive season was Moneke. The senior forward, who hails from Canberra, Australia, recorded 11 double-doubles throughout his 21 games played, posted double-figure point totals in all but one game, scored 20 or more points eight times, and grabbed 10 or more rebounds in 11 games.
Last year's Newcomer of the Year nearly averaged a double-double this year thanks to his 18.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game figures, both team highs. No Aggie blocked more shots (23) or collected more rebounds (201), defensive rebounds (156) or offensive rebounds (45) than Moneke.
Among all league players, nobody holds a higher points per 40 minutes figure than Moneke (24.5); he is also ranked No. 2 in rebounds per game, No. 3 in points per game, No. 4 in total and defensive rebounds, No. 5 in free throws made (110), No. 8 in field goal percentage (.515) and No. 9 in blocks.
As has been the case since he arrived to UC Davis in 2011, the foundation of Coach Les’ program is defense — something that basketball fans, coaches and pundits across the nation are well aware of. It is the team’s play on this end of the court which led to the Aggies’ third Big West championship in the last four seasons and third 20-win campaign during that same timespan.
“I am honored to work at UC Davis. The leadership of Chancellor Gary S. May and Kevin Blue provides a platform to believe that excellence can be achieved.”
Les added, “I am grateful to work every day with (assistant coaches) Kevin Nosek, Kyle Vogt, Jonathan Metzger-Jones, Jody Steliga (operations), Brendan McShea (video/operations) and Tina Tubbs (sports medicine). They are tireless workers who are passionate about mentoring young people and making their college experience special.”
Les is the 12th individual in league history to earn multiple Coach of the Year awards. With Monday’s announcement, he has now coached two Big West Players of the Year and three Big West Newcomers of the Year.
By virtue of winning this year’s regular season crown, UC Davis will enter the Big West Tournament as its No. 1 seed, and will open action inside the Honda Center on Thursday at 12 p.m. with its quarterfinal matchup vs. No. 8 UC Riverside. In addition to an online stream at FOXSportsGo.com, this game will be televised on FOX College Sports Pacific (Northern and Central California) and FOX Sports West (Southern California).
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