Lions’ Veal picks up All-Southland Conference honors

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Marlain VealFRISCO, Texas. – Southeastern Louisiana sophomore guard Marlain Veal served notice early in the season he would be one to keep an eye on in the Southland Conference.

Veal scored a then-career-high 28 points at Tulane, then added 22 points against Jackson State to earn conference Player of the Week honors for the second week of the season.

That recognition continued throughout the season, culminating in Veal receiving third-team All-Conference honors in a vote by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors on Monday.

“I’m very proud of Marlain and the progress he’s made in his two short seasons,” Southeastern head coach Jay Ladner said. “He continues to grow as a point guard. He’s gifted athletically and has continued to improve on the finer points and mental aspects of basketball. It’s also a testament to him that the other coaches in the league think that highly of him.

“As basketball is a team game, I’m certain he will receive this outstanding honor with the humility that it wouldn’t have been possible without the success of his team and his teammates.”

Veal, a New Orleans native, has helped lead Southeastern (16-15 overall, 9-9 Southland) to its first winning season in six years and a berth in this week’s Southland Conference Tournament. The seventh-seeded Lions will take on No. 6 Lamar (18-13, 10-8) in the opening round at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Merrill Center in Katy, Texas.

Veal leads Southeastern and ranks 10th in the Southland with 14.4 points per game, while ranking sixth in the league in assists (4.5 apg) and steals (1.8 spg) and 10th in scoring. He is also tied for 10th in 3-point field goal percentage (.400) and 11th in assist/turnover ratio (1.2). Nationally, Veal ranks 49th in total steals (115), 61st in steals per game and 85thin total assists (139). His steals are the fifth-most in the season by a Lion while his assists rank seventh.

Veal scored a career-high 29 points at Nicholls, his third game of 28 or more points in 2016-17. He also had 28 points against Central Arkansas in addition to the game at Tulane, making him the first Lion with three games of 28 or more points in a season since Trent Hutchin had three 32-point games during the 2010-11 campaign. He was also the first Southeastern player with consecutive 28-point games since Hutchin scored 32 at Lamar and Sam Houston from Feb. 2-5, 2011. His performance against Central Arkansas and Nicholls earned him Co-Louisiana Sports Writers Association Player of the Week honors.

Veal had a career-high 10 assists against Northwestern State, the most by a Lion since Zay Jackson had 12 against New Orleans on Feb. 24, 2016. He also had 11 points for his first career double-double. It is the first double-double by a Lion that included double-figure assists since Michael Gardener had 18 points and 11 rebounds against Texas-San Antonio on Jan. 15, 2004.

New Orleans forward Erik Thomas was selected as the Southland Conference Player of the Year, as voted on by league head coaches and sports information directors. Thomas, who helped New Orleans win its first regular-season championship, headlines 15 players named to the three all-conference teams. Student-athletes from 11 of the 13 member schools were represented.

Nicholls center Liam Thomas was the Defensive Player of the Year.  Abilene Christian center Jalone Friday earned Freshman of the Year recognition while UIW guard Jalin Hart claimed Newcomer of the Year honors.  New Orleans’ Mark Slessinger was the Coach of the Year.

Wednesday’s conference tournament opener will be televised on ESPN3 and via the WatchESPN app. The game will be broadcast live in the Hammond area on KSLU-FM (90.9), online at www.LionSports.net/listenlive and via the TuneIn Radio app. A link to live stats, provided by the Southland, will be accessible on the men’s basketball schedule page at LionSports.net.

Tickets are available at the Southeastern Louisiana Athletics Ticket Office through close of business Friday and at the Merrell Center box office beginning Wednesday at 5 p.m.

General admission tickets for the first three rounds are $15 apiece. Tickets to each men’s and women’s championship games are $10 for general admission. An all-tournament booklet is available for $60.

For more information, contact the ticket office at (985) 549-5466 or 1-866-LION-TIX. Ticket office hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Fridays. The ticket office is located in Room 107 of the Dugas Center for Southeastern Athletics.

For more information about the tournament, visit www.Southland.org.

Player of the Year: Erik Thomas, New Orleans

Defensive Player of the Year: Liam Thomas, Nicholls

Freshman of the Year: Jalone Friday, Abilene Christian

Newcomer of the Year: Jalin Hart, UIW

Coach of the Year: Mark Slessinger, New Orleans

2016-17 All-Southland Conference Men’s Basketball Teams

First Team Institution Pos. Class Hometown

Erik Thomas New Orleans F Sr. Wesley Chapel, Fla.

Rashawn Thomas Texas A&M-CC F Sr. Oklahoma City, Okla.

Jordan Howard Central Arkansas G Jr. Chandler, Ariz.

Colton Weisbrod Lamar F Sr. Nederland, Texas

Ehab Amin Texas A&M-CC G Jr. Alexandria, Egypt 

Second Team Institution Pos. Class Hometown

TJ Holyfield Stephen F. Austin F So. Albuquerque, N.M.

Jalin Hart UIW G Jr. Houston, Texas

Colter Lasher Houston Baptist F Sr. Anchorage, Alaska

Josh Ibarra Houston Baptist C Jr. Angleton, Texas

Reveal Chukwujekwu Houston Baptist G/F Sr. Houston, Texas

Third Team Institution Pos. Class Hometown

Marlain Veal Southeastern La. G So. New Orleans, La. 

Liam Thomas Nicholls C Sr. Sydney, Australia

Aurimas Majauskas Sam Houston St. F/C Sr. Marijampole, Lithuania

John Dewey III Sam Houston St. G So. Bronx, N.Y.

Jalone Friday Abilene Christian C Fr. Oklahoma City, Okla.

Honorable Mention: Derreck Brooks, Central Arkansas; Ja’Dante’ Frye, Nicholls; Christavious Gill, New Orleans; Simi Socks, UIW; Sabri Thompson, Northwestern State.

All-Defensive Team Institution Pos. Class Hometown

Liam Thomas Nicholls C Sr. Sydney, Australia

Ehab Amin Texas A&M-CC G Jr. Alexandria, Egypt

Rashawn Thomas Texas A&M-CC F Sr. Oklahoma City, Okla.

Paul Baxter Sam Houston St. G Sr. Austin, Texas

Travin Thibodeaux New Orleans F Jr. Plaquemine, La.

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