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2002-03 NEC Men's Basketball All-Conference Team

Somerset, NJ -- Wagner College senior forward Jermaine Hall (Dublin, GA/Dublin) was a unanimous selection as 2002-03 Northeast Conference Player of the Year in a vote conducted by league head coaches. St. Francis (PA) freshman guard Darshan Luckey (Baltimore, MD/Southern) was tabbed NEC Rookie of the Year, while Monmouth senior center Kevin Owens (Haddonfield, NJ/Camden Catholic) was awarded NEC Defensive Player of the Year honors. The NEC Coach of the Year award, renamed the Jim Phelan Coach of the Year, was won by Wagner’s Dereck Whittenburg. The awards were presented at a banquet on the eve of the 2003 NEC Basketball Tournament, the first two rounds of which will be held at Wagner College in Staten Island, New York.

Despite opposing coaches designing defensive game plans with the express purpose of stopping his prolific post-up game, Hall still proved to be the centerpiece of Wagner’s attack and an unstoppable force in the interior for the NEC regular season champion Seahawks. The 6-5 forward currently stands second in the NEC in scoring (21.5 ppg) and field goal percentage (.577) and ranks seventh in rebounding (7.3 rpg). A three-time all-NEC first team pick and the 1999-00 NEC Rookie of the Year, Hall is the second leading scorer in Wagner history and fourth in NEC annals with 2,194 points. The Haggerty Award candidate is also just the fourth player in New York City collegiate history to break the 2,000-point milestone, joining such notable figures as St. John’s Chris Mullin and Malik Sealy and former Wagner star Terrance Bailey, the NEC’s all-time leading scorer. In 2002-03, Hall tied the NEC single-season record with five Player of the Week honors, lifting his career total to eight, third in league history.

One of the most decorated freshman in league history and the first NEC frosh to earn first team all-NEC honors in a decade, Luckey lived up to the preseason hype and then some. A pure scorer who is strong in the air and has a knack for producing in the clutch, Luckey helped revitalize the Red Flash program in 2002-03. He sparked an eight-game improvement from last season, while leading St. Francis (PA) to its first NEC playoff berth since the 1999-00 campaign. A 6-3 guard who averages a league-leading 21.9 points per game, Luckey is attempting to become the first freshman in league history to rank first in the conference in scoring. The Baltimore, MD native is also the nation’s second leading freshman point producer, ranks 18th nationally in scoring and recently broke the NEC single-season scoring mark for freshman that had stood for ten years. Luckey also tied another league mark with eight NEC Rookie of the Week selections, including five in a row as the Red Flash made their final push for a tournament spot. A terrific rebounder for his size, Luckey leads the Red Flash with 5.3 boards per contest.

One of the league’s top centers, Owens’ contributions in Monmouth’s vaunted matchup zone did not go unnoticed by NEC head coaches. His ability to shut down opposing pivotmen, along with his uncanny ability to alter opponent’s shots in the paint, make him a key weapon in head coach Dave Calloway’s defensive schemes. Owens leads the conference with 1.8 blocks per game.

Whittenburg earns Coach of the Year honors for the first time in his career after piloting Wagner to its first-ever NEC regular season title. One year after leading Wagner to its first NIT bid in 22 years, Whittenburg led the Seahawks to a 14-4 league record and the best conference winning percentage (.778) in school history. Scoring impressive non-conference victories over Brown, Virginia Commonwealth and American, the Seahawks are two victories shy of their first 20-win campaign since 1978-79. In four years at the Staten Island school, Whittenburg has compiled a 64-47 record.

In addition to Hall and Luckey, the all-NEC first team consists of Long Island graduate guard Antawn Dobie (Corona, NY/Msgr. McClancy), Central Connecticut State junior forward Ron Robinson (Bronx, NY/Winchendon Academy) and St. Francis (NY) senior forward Clifford Strong (Brooklyn, NY/Bishop Loughlin).

One of the quickest players and best passers in recent NEC memory, Dobie was a one-man show at times for playoff-bound Long Island this season. The ultra-slick point guard leads the NEC in assists and is fourth in the nation with 7.4 per contest, and ranks third in the NEC in scoring with 19.5 ppg. The NEC’s second leading active scorer with 1,618 career points, he has moved up to fourth all-time at Long Island and 27th on the NEC chart. A Corona, NY native, Dobie has led the Blackbirds in scoring in each of his four seasons and is now a two-time first team all-NEC selection. He saved his best for neighborhood rival St. Francis (NY) this season, averaging 36.5 points and 16.0 assists in two games against the Terriers. He dished for 17 assists - the highest single-game total in the nation this season - when the two teams first met in December, and exploded for 53 points and 15 assists in the second meeting in February. The 53 points is the second highest single-game output in the country in 2002-03.

Robinson lived up to the expectations that came with his selection to the NEC preseason all-conference team. The junior averages 12.7 points, leads the NEC with 9.2 rebounds per game and is shooting .530 from the floor. A 6-7 power forward with tremendous athletic skills and a soft touch from the outside, Robinson also paces the circuit with 11 double-doubles, all of which have come during league play. With 748 career rebounds, Robinson has moved up to 17th on the NEC career chart, and is on pace to become just the second player in league history to finish his career with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.

Strong is one of three stellar senior performers on St. Francis (NY), but none had a greater impact than the Brooklyn native. A relentless rebounder who is extremely quick off his feet, the 6-7 Strong does most of his damage in and around the basket. During the regular season, he averaged 14.3 points and ranked fourth in the conference with 7.9 rebounds per outing. He also ranks third in the NEC with eight double-doubles. Strong enters postseason play with 1,233 career points, including 1,063 as a Terrier since transferring from Loyola (MD).

Five new faces grace the all-NEC second team, including two apiece from Monmouth and Quinnipiac. Senior center Kevin Owens (Haddonfield, NJ/Camden Catholic) and sophomore guard Dwayne Byfield (Elmont, NY/St. Mary’s) represent Monmouth, while junior guard Kason Mims (Astoria, NY/Milford Academy (CT)) and sophomore guard Rob Monroe (Lanham, MD/Montrose Christian) hail from Quinnipiac. They are joined by Robert Morris sophomore guard Maurice Carter (Richmond, VA/Eleanor Roosevelt (MD)).

Owens is considered one of the NEC’s top interior players, combining terrific footwork with a wide array of low post moves. He averages 12.0 points and is the NEC’s third rated rebounder with 8.6 per game. He also shoots .516 from the field to lead the Hawks. In February, he became the 11th player in Monmouth’s Division I history to eclipse the 1,000-point mark and has since improved his total to 1,067 points. Since Owens began his career four years ago, Monmouth has posted a 66-50 record, a stark contrast to the 9-44 mark in the two years prior to his arrival.

Byfield made the logical jump from all-NEC rookie team member last season to budding star in his sophomore campaign. One of the league’s premier long range bombers and an underrated defender, Byfield leads Monmouth in scoring and ranks 10th in the conference with 15.1 points per game. He is the NEC’s most prolific free throw shooter and is tenth nationally with a 90.9 percent success ratio. The Elmont, NY native has also amassed 74 three-pointers in 2002-03, third in the NEC.

Mims has quietly become one of the top all-around players on the circuit, combining smooth passing skills, a reliable long range jumper and terrific defensive instincts. Mims averages 13.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.9 steals per contest. He ranks in the NEC top-20 in six categories, including fourth in assists and sixth in steals. The Astoria, NY product is just 66 points shy of 1,000 for his career.

Monroe proved his fantastic rookie campaign a year ago was no fluke as Quinnipiac’s balanced offensive attack revolves around his versatile skills at the point. One of the quickest coast-to-coast players in the conference, Monroe averages 13.6 points, 4.4 assists and is fifth in the league with 2.3 three-pointers per game. Hailing from Lanham, MD, Monroe shook off the effects of an early season ankle injury and regained the form that made him the 2001-02 NEC Rookie of the Year.

Carter turned some heads with his ability to put points on the board and became the Colonials’ go-to player in just his sophomore campaign. He is currently the NEC’s fourth leading scorer with 19.1 points per game and is the league’s top-ranked three-point shooter with 84 treys. Carter’s 10.1 ppg scoring improvement from last season is the best in the NEC. In November, Carter set a new school record with 42 points against Eastern Michigan.

The future of the NEC resides in the considerable talents of the 2002-03 NEC all-Rookie team. Joining Luckey, the NEC Rookie of the Year, are four other guards. Central Connecticut State freshman sharpshooter Justin Chiera (Colonia, NJ/Colonia) can light it up from the outside. Thrust into a considerable role as a freshman, Chiera averages 9.8 points, shoots .428 from downtown and is second among NEC freshman with 59 three-pointers. His 59 treys also set a Blue Devil record for freshman. St. Francis (NY) freshman John Quintana (Brooklyn, NY/Lincoln) is one of the NEC’s hottest players entering tournament play. Quintana lifted his season scoring average to 7.1 points per outing following 31, 25 and 21-point performances in his last three games of the season, all Terrier wins. An outstanding long distance shooter who is hitting 42.6 percent of his shots from beyond the arc, Quintana can also create his own opportunities in St. Francis (NY)’s up-tempo attack. Mount St. Mary’s Landy Thompson (Germantown, MD/Archbishop Spalding) played more like a seasoned veteran than a freshman in his first year of collegiate ball, earning two NEC Rookie of the Week nods. The NEC’s second leading freshman scorer, Thompson ranks ninth overall with 15.6 points per game. He also leads all NEC freshman and is fourth in the conference with 62 trifectas. His quick development - which began with a 28-point performance in his first career game at North Carolina State - along with a number of other talented Mount freshman, led to an eight-game improvement in the win column for the Mountaineers. Rounding out the all-Rookie team is Fairleigh Dickinson freshman Chad Timberlake (Brooklyn, NY/New Utrecht). While his averages - 6.5 points and 2.7 assists - are modest, his ability to make shots (.532 from the floor) and hold onto the ball (he ranks third among NEC freshman with a 1.57:1 assist-to-turnover ratio) are invaluable assets for a Knights team that improved from 4-25 in 2001-02 to 14-13 this season.


2002-03 NEC Men’s Basketball Award Winners
Player of the Year
Jermaine Hall Wagner F 6-5 210 Sr Dublin, GA/Dublin
Rookie of the Year
Darshan Luckey St. Francis (PA) G 6-4 185 Fr Baltimore, MD/Southern
Defensive Player of the Year
Kevin Owens Monmouth C 6-10 230 Sr Haddonfield, NJ/Camden Catholic
Jim Phelan Coach of the Year
Dereck Whittenburg Wagner
2002-03 NEC Men’s Basketball First Team All-Conference
Name School Pos Ht Wt Yr Hometown/High School
Antawn Dobie Long Island G 6-0 165 Gr Corona, NY/Msgr. McClancy
Jermaine Hall Wagner F 6-5 210 Sr Dublin, GA/Dublin
Darshan Luckey St. Francis (PA) G 6-4 185 Fr Baltimore, MD/Southern
Ron Robinson CCSU F 6-7 210 Jr Bronx, NY/
Winchendon Academy (MA)
Clifford Strong St. Francis (NY) F 6-7 220 Sr Brooklyn, NY/Bishop Loughlin
2002-03 NEC Men’s Basketball Second Team All-Conference
Name School Pos Ht Wt Yr Hometown/High School
Dwayne Byfield Monmouth G 6-2 175 So Elmont, NY/St. Mary’s
Maurice Carter Robert Morris G 6-0 180 So Richmond, VA/
Eleanor Roosevelt (MD)
Kason Mims Quinnipiac G 6-3 187 Jr Astoria, NY/Milford Academy (CT)
Rob Monroe Quinnipiac G 5-10 160 So Lanham, MD/Montrose Christian
Kevin Owens Monmouth C 6-10 230 Sr Haddonfield, NJ/Camden Catholic
2002-03 NEC Men’s Basketball All-Rookie Team
Name School Pos Ht Wt Yr Hometown/High School
Justin Chiera CCSU G 6-2 175 Fr Colonia, NJ/Colonia
Darshan Luckey St. Francis (PA) G 6-4 185 Fr Baltimore, MD/Southern
John Quintana St. Francis (NY) G 6-1 185 Fr Brooklyn, NY/Lincoln
Landy Thompson Mount St. Mary’s G 6-1 178 Fr Germantown, MD/
Archbishop Spalding
Chad Timberlake FDU G 6-4 190 Fr Brooklyn, NY/New Utrecht