BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – For the first time in the history of the Delta State University men’s basketball program, the Statesmen have won each of the top three season-ending awards from the Gulf South Conference: Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Coach of the Year.
Senior Willie Readus got the nod for GSC Player of the Year after coming in and making a huge impact for the Statesmen in a single year, proving to be an unstoppable force in the post. This marks the eighth time a Delta State player has earned the honor. The Morton, Miss. native averaged 19.5 points per game in the regular season to go along with 11 rebounds. That makes Readus second in scoring in the conference ranks and first in rebounding.
Readus also tied the 2013-2014 scoring record for an individual player by posting 36 points against Shorter on Jan. 6. He has scored 188 field goals and has amassed 546 total points. So far, Readus has 236 defensive rebounds, making him the leader in that category and 71 offensive boards, ranking Readus third in the GSC. He also is in the top 10 in free throw percentage, going 170-223 for 76 percent at the line. Readus sits in fifth in the league in minutes played at 958.
GSC Freshman of the Year went to Devin Schmidt after a standout first season with the Statesmen. He ranks No. 9 in scoring in the Gulf South after the regular season, averaging 15.5 points per game with stats of 152 field goals, 34 3-pointers and 95 free throws for 433 total points. Schmidt cracks the top 10 in field goal percentage, shooting 152-295 so far, about 52 percent. The freshman also likes to help out his teammates – Schmidt has dished out 116 assists, averaging four per contest.
The Sevierville, Tenn. native has an 83 percent success rate at the charity stripe, hitting 95-144 at the free-throw line in the regular season. Schmidt also ranks No. 8 in 3-point field goal percentage. He’s 34-87 there for 40 percent. Combined with Readus, the pair has been a defensive rebounding power. Schmidt averages five boards a game and has pulled down 150 on defense so far. Finally, the Freshman of the Year is sixth in minutes played, having been in games for a total of 957 minutes.
Finally, completing the sweep, for the fifth time in his 28-year career as a head coach, Jim Boone earned Coach of the Year honors. It is the first time Boone received the accolade in the GSC, in just his second year at Delta State. The Gulf South is the third conference that has handed Boone the honor. It marks the sixth time a Statesmen head coach has been voted tops by his colleagues in the league.
Boone led the Statesmen to a 23-5 regular season record, 16-4 in the Gulf South and a regular season GSC Championship for the first time since the 2005-2006 season. Taking the Statesmen into the conference tournament as the No. 1 seed, Delta State leads the league statistics in scoring defense, scoring margin, field goal percentage, field goal percentage defense, 3-point field goal percentage defense, rebounding defense, rebounding margin, defensive rebounds and defensive rebounding percentage.
Statesmen basketball has taken both Player and Coach of the Year, in the same season, four other times in the program’s history. This is the first time DSU has been honored with player, coach and freshman.