Senior forward DeQuan Hicks repeated as a second-team All-Southland choice on the 15-man team, while senior guard Brison White and Woodley were among six players receiving honorable mention status, meaning they were included on at least 25 percent of the ballots cast by the 14 head coaches and each institution’s basketball sports information contact. Hicks, West, White and Woodley have helped the Demons win 11 of their last 13 games, rallying the team from a 1-4 league start.
“It’s nice to see the coaches and SIDs acknowledge our four guys being among the best players in the league this season, and it’s well-deserved,” said 15th-year Northwestern coach Mike McConathy. “We weren’t in a good place in the middle of January. Now we are playing well, not that we don’t have things we need to do better, heading into the most important week of the season. It’s the week our guys have worked for since the loss to Florida in the NCAA Tournament last March, and it all comes down to finding a way to win Thursday night.”
The Demons (16-13) finished fourth with a 12-6 record in the Southland race. They play Thursday evening at 5 in the quarterfinals of the Southland Tournament in Katy, Texas, against the winner of a first-round contest between Southeastern Louisiana and Nicholls State. A victory pushes them into a Friday evening 5 p.m. matchup with regular-season champion Stephen F. Austin, with the tourney championship game Saturday night at 7:30 in the Merrell Center.
West received the third highest vote total in the all-conference balloting, topped only by Southland Player of the Year Jacob Parker, a junior forward from Stephen F. Austin, and Shawn Glover, the high-scoring senior forward from Oral Roberts. The other two first-team picks were junior point guard John Jordan of second-place Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and the Southland’s top scorer, senior guard LaQuentin Miles of Central Arkansas.
West, a 5-foot-10 sophomore guard from Bossier City-Bossier High School, leads the Demons in scoring with 18.9 points per game, which ranks fifth in the Southland. He paces the conference with 6.6 assists and 2.6 steals per game to go with a conference-best 87.7 free-throw aim (24th nationally), and also tops the Southland with his 2.5 assist to turnover ratio. West is sixth in the NCAA in steals, eighth nationally in assists and is one of only two players to rank in the top 10 in both assists and steals.
West, who has been named by BleacherReport.com as the nation’s fourth-rated player under 6-feet tall, is the only Division I player who averages at least 18.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game. West has tied the NSU season record with 76 steals and ranks seventh on the school’s career list in steals with 151, on pace to top Tyronn Mitchell’s school record of 264 from 2002-06. He has 355 assists, also seventh in school history and on track to shatter the record of 552 by Ryan Bundy (1994-98).
Woodley gives the Demons back-to-back Freshman of the Year winners – West took last year’s award. A 6-2 guard from Pelican All-Saints High School, Woodley is the third Northwestern player to earn top freshman honors, joining West and 1990 choice Dexter Grimsley.
Woodley is the Southland’s top scoring freshman, averaging 14.1 points, 14th in the conference. His 63.2 field-goal percentage ranks third nationally, and he is the only guard in the NCAA top 10. He is also shooting 42.9 percent on 3-pointers and 81.2 percent at the foul line (sixth in the Southland). Woodley, who maintained a 3.2 grade point average in his first college semester, was a three-time Louisiana Class C state MVP in high school.
Hicks, who is in the league’s top 20 in six statistics and the top 10 in five, was one of only three repeat selections on the all-conference team, along with Glover and Miles. The 6-7 Racine, Wis., native averages 15.1 points (eighth in the Southland), 7.2 rebounds (sixth) including 2.6 offensive rebounds (fourth) and 4.6 defensive rebounds (ninth), 1.5 steals (ninth) and 2.7 assists (19th).
White, a 5-10 senior guard from Wichita, Kan., is 18th in the Southland in scoring (13.5 per game) and 13th in steals (1.4). He has shot 53 percent and averaged 15.4 points in the last 12 games, contributing to NSU’s impressive surge down the stretch.
Joining Hicks on the second team are SFA senior guard Desmond Haymon, Incarnate Word junior guard Denzel Livingston, Oral Roberts sophomore guard Korey Billbury and McNeese State senior guard Ledrick Eackles.
The third-team choices each are receiving all-league laurels for the first time, including Sam Houston’s Jabari Peters, the Newcomer of the Year. Joining him on the third team are Nicholls senior guard Dantrell Thomas, SFA sophomore guard Thomas Walkup, New Orleans senior forward Cory Dixon and Sam Houston junior guard Kaheem Ransom.
Four all-conference selections also appear on the league’s five-member all-defensive team: West, Livingston, Walkup and Glover. The other is McNeese State junior guard Kevin Hardy, who, like West, has made the all-defensive squad in each of the two years the team has been selected.
SFA’s Brad Underwood won the Coach of the Year award. In his first year at SFA, the Lumberjacks (29-2) have a chance to become the first Southland team to win 30 games. The record ranks in the top-10 all-time starts by a first-year head coach in NCAA history. Underwood’s squad became the first in the Southland to navigate a perfect 18-game schedule and is the first undefeated league champion since Arkansas State in 1967. No team in the league’s 51-year history had gone undefeated in more than an eight-game schedule.
Parker, a junior forward, is averaging 14.5 points and 7.1 rebounds to pace SFA. Among the conference leaders, Parker is ranked in several statistical categories, including second in free-throw percentage (.870), fifth in offensive rebounds (2.5), seventh in rebounding (7.1), ninth in field goal percentage (.537), 11th in scoring (14.5) and 12th in defensive rebounds (4.5).