Big Sky basketball: WSU’s Jones unanimous on First Team, though no individual awards
Weber State basketball teams had three players awarded with all-conference honors for the 2022-23 season after the Big Sky Conference announced its men’s and women’s All-Big Sky individual award winners and all-conference teams this week, as voted upon by the league’s head coaches.
Dillon Jones was a unanimous First-Team selection and Steven Verplancken Jr. was voted to the Third Team for the third-place Wildcat men. Forward Daryn Hickok was voted a Third-Team player on the women’s side.
BIG SKY MEN
Eastern Washington guard Steele Venters was voted the league MVP. The third-year player averaged 15.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game on 46.1% shooting.
Jones joined Venters and Montana State wing RaeQuan Battle as unanimous First-Team selections. EWU guard Angelo Allegri and Montana forward Josh Bannan were also voted to the First Team.
Jones averaged 16.6 points, 11 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game on 48.6% shooting. He’s the only player in the country to average at least 16 points, 11 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.0 steals per game. Indiana senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, at 6-foot-9, is the only comparable player nationally, meeting the same thresholds for points, rebounds and assists while trading steals (0.7 per game) for blocks (2.8).
Jones also recorded 19 double-doubles, third-most nationally, and won Big Sky player of the week honors five times; no other player in the league earned that distinction more than twice.
Jones also led the country in defensive rebounding by a considerable margin. He pulled down 10.23 defensive rebounds per game, besting New Hampshire’s Clarence Daniels who had 8.25 per game.
By percentage of available defensive rebounds, Jones hauled in 36%, distancing himself from second-place Enrique Freeman of Akron at 30.5%. The next closest player in the Big Sky was Sacramento State’s 7-foot-1 center Callum McRae, pulling in 27.6% of available defensive rebounds.
Montana State guard Darius Brown II was voted as the league’s defensive player of the year, totaling 13 more steals through the season than Jones.
MSU big man Great Osobor was voted the top reserve player, Idaho’s Nigel Burris as freshman of the year and EWU’s David Riley as coach of the year. Idaho’s Isaac Jones was the newcomer of the year.
The league’s leading scorer, Dalton Knecht of Northern Colorado, leads Second Team selections along with Jones (Idaho), last year’s MVP Jubrile Belo (Montana State), Cameron Parker (Portland State) and Aanen Moody (Montana).
Joining Verplancken on the Third Team are Brown (MSU), McRae (Sac State), Jalen Cone (Northern Arizona), Brayden Parker (Idaho State).
Honorable mentions are Daylen Kountz (Northern Colorado), Divant’e Moffitt (Idaho), Zach Chappell (Sac State), Ethan Price (EWU) and Brock Mackenzie (ISU).
BIG SKY WOMEN
Kahlaijah Dean was voted MVP for the Big Sky women, averaging 21.3 points per game on 41.4% 3-point shooting for the shared conference champs; she also earned newcomer of the year honors.
EWU’s Jamie Loera is the defensive player of the year, Montana State’s Leia Beattie the top reserve, and Montana’s Mack Konig the freshman of the year.
The coaches who led the three teams who shared the regular-season title finished tied in coach of the year voting: MSU’s Tricia Binford, Sac State’s Mark Campbell and Northern Arizona’s Loree Payne.
On the First Team, Dean, Beyonce Bea (Idaho) and Darian White (MSU) were all unanimous selections. Regan Schenck (NAU) and Isnelle Natabou (Sac State) are also First Teamers.
On the Second Team: Carmen Gfeller (Montana), Kola Bad Bear (MSU), Callie Bourne (Idaho State), Esmerelda Morales (Portland State) and Montana Oltrogge (NAU).
With Hickok on the Third Team: Loera (EWU), Jaydia Martin (EWU), Hannah Simental (Northern Colorado) and Sammy Fatkin (Montana).
Honorable mentions are Beattie (MSU), Delaynie Bryne (NoCo), Jacinta Buckley (EWU), Gina Marxen (Montana) and Laura Bello (ISU).