UNO’s Erik Thomas, Mark Slessinger headline All-Louisiana men’s basketball team

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Erik Thomas, Mark Slessinger

Written for the LSWA


LAFAYETTE – The 2016-17 season capped a Renaissance for the University of New Orleans men’s basketball program.

After dealing with the effects from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 along with an unpopular move – and later reversal – of its entire athletic program to Division II, the Privateers recorded one of its best seasons on the court in 2016-17, claiming the Southland Conference men’s basketball regular-season and tournament championship.

New Orleans, which received the SLC’s automatic berth to last month’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships, received more honors as Privateer head coach Mark Slessinger and senior forward Erik Thomas claimed top honors as the Louisiana Sports Writers Association released the 2016-17 Louisiana Men’s College Basketball Team Saturday night.

UL Lafayette’s Frank Bartley was named the LSWA Newcomer of the Year with Louisiana Tech guard DaQuan Bracey named the state’s Freshman of the Year.

A panel including the state’s basketball sports information directors and selected media members picked the 2016-17 All-LSWA Men’s College Basketball team.

Thomas, the Southland Conference Player of the Year, led UNO in scoring (19.5), rebounds (7.8), field goal percentage (.591) and free throw percentage (.783) while finishing tied for the team lead in steals (45). The 6-foot-5 forward scored in double figures in all 31 games for the Privateers with 15 20-plus contests, including a career-high 31 against LaGrange on Nov. 11.

Slessinger, who was named the Southland Conference Coach of the Year, took a team that was picked near the bottom of the SLC Preseason Polls and guided the Privateers a 20-11 record – a 9.5 game improvement from the previous season – and their best season since 1996-97. The regular-season title, which was sparked by an 13-5 league record, was the program’s first since 1997 with New Orleans making its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1996.

Bartley, a Baton Rouge native and transfer from BYU, finished second for the Ragin’ Cajuns in scoring (15.3) and finished among the Sun Belt Conference leaders in assists, steals, free throw percentage and 3-pointers made. The Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year and third-team All-SBC pick scored 20 or more points in nine games, including a career-high 31 points, at Georgia State.

Bracey, the Conference USA Freshman of the Year, became just the fourth Bulldog in program history to be named conference freshman of the year. He averaged 9.1 points and 5.8 assists per game in his first season in Ruston while setting a C-USA and program freshman record for most assists in a single season with 193.

LSU’s Antonio Blakeney, Louisiana Tech forward Erik McCree, James Sapp of Centenary and UL Lafayette guard Jay Wright joined Thomas on the first team.

Named to the second team were Demetric Austin of Dillard, Loyola’s Johnny Griffin, Jr., Shawn Prudhomme of Southern, Raheem Regis of Louisiana College and Brian Sylvester of LSU Alexandria.

Bartley was joined on the third team by Ragin’ Cajuns teammate Bryce Washington, along with Jacobi Boykins of Louisiana Tech, Cameron Reynolds of Tulane and Northwestern State’s Zeek Woodley.

Antonio Blakeney, LSU – 17.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.7 apg, 2016-17 Second Team All-SEC
Erik McCree, Louisiana Tech – 17.7 ppg., 8.9 rpg., First Team All-Conference USA
James Sapp, Centenary – 21.5 ppg., 10.1 rpg., 2017 SCAC Player of the Year
Erik Thomas, New Orleans – 19.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, Southland Conference Player of the Year
Jay Wright, UL Lafayette – 16.2 ppg., 2.5 rpg., 3.9 apg., SBC Defensive Player of the Year

Demetric Austin, Dillard – 20.8 ppg., 8.5 rpg., 2017 First-Team All-GCAC
Johnny Griffin, Jr., Loyola – 14.3 ppg., 10.0 rpg., SSAC First Team, SSAC Defensive Player of the Year
Shawn Prudhomme, Southern – 17.5 ppg., 5.9 rpg., First-Team All-SWAC
Raheem Regis, Louisiana College – 16.8 ppg., 8.8 rpg., Second-Team All-ASC
Brian Sylvester, LSU Alexandria – 14.0 ppg., 7.8 rpg., NAIA First Team All-America

Frank Bartley, UL Lafayette – 15.3 ppg., 4.3 rpg., 2.6 apg., SBC Newcomer of the Year
Jacobi Boykins, Louisiana Tech – 14.7 ppg., 4.7 rpg., C-USA All-Defensive Team
Cameron Reynolds, Tulane – 17.0 ppg., 6.8 rpg., 2017 AAC Most Improved Player of the Year
Bryce Washington, UL Lafayette – 13.5 ppg., 11.2 rpg., Second-Team All-Sun Belt Conference
Zeek Woodley, Northwestern State – 19.2 ppg,. 3.5 rpg., Preseason First-Team All-Southland Conference

Brandon Moss, LSU Alexandria; Liam Thomas, Nicholls; Avery Ugba, Grambling; Marlain Veal, Southeastern Louisiana

PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Erik Thomas, New Orleans
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR – Frank Bartley, UL Lafayette
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR – DaQuan Bracey, Louisiana Tech
COACH OF THE YEAR – Mark Slessinger, New Orleans

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Matt Sullivan

Matt Sullivan

Sports Information Director, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

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