Parker Named Men's Basketball Player of the Year
March 10, 2014
FRISCO, Texas – Stephen F. Austin junior forward Jacob Parker has been named the 2013-14 Southland Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Year by a vote of the league’s head coaches and sports information directors, the conference office announced Monday in conjunction with the release of the all-conference basketball teams.
Additionally, first-year head coach Brad Underwood was named the league’s the coach of the year. Senior guard Desmond Haymon was named to the second team, while sophomore Thomas Walkup was named to the third team and the all-defensive team. All honors are the first of their respective careers.
Parker helped lead the Lumberjacks to their second consecutive Southland regular-season championship and their fourth overall in program history. The forward from Bixby, Okla. (Bixby H.S.), enters the conference tournament averaging 14.5 points and 7.1 rebounds to pace SFA. Among the conference leaders, Parker is highly ranked in several statistical categories, including second in free-throw percentage (.870), fifth in offensive rebounds (2.5), seventh in rebounding (7.1), ninth in field goal percentage (.537), 11th in scoring (14.5) and 12th in defensive rebounds (4.5). He has scored in double figures in all but five of the Lumberjacks’ 31 games and scored 20 or more points five times, including a season-high 31 points at Marshall in November. Parker has nine career double-doubles (all this season) and pulled down a career-high 13 rebounds against Northwestern State in January. Parker is the fourth SFA player to earn the award and is the second consecutive for the ‘Jacks. Taylor Smith won the award last season, while Josh Alexander and Matt Kingsley won the award in consecutive seasons in 2008 and 2009.
SFA also took home its second consecutive coach of the year award. Underwood, who joined the ‘Jacks after a long career as an assistant coach, most recently at South Carolina, and previously at Kansas State under Frank Martin and Bob Huggins, is making a name for himself in his first season as a head coach. The ‘Jacks carry a 29-2 record into this week’s conference tournament and have a chance to become the first Southland team to win 30 games. The record ranks in the top-10 all-time starts by a first-year head coach in NCAA history, currently 8th. Underwood’s squad became the first in the Southland to navigate a perfect 18-game schedule and is the first undefeated league champion since Arkansas State in 1967. No team in the league’s 51-year history had gone undefeated in more than an eight-game schedule. SFA’s perfect mark in conference play made them the third this season, joining top-ranked Florida and second-ranked Wichita State, and just the 18th team and in NCAA history to navigate a undefeated conference schedule in conference seasons of 18 games or more.
Under Underwood’s tutelage, the ‘Jacks became the first Southland team to win 29 games in the regular season, matching the 1985 Louisiana Tech team that finished 29-3 after reaching the “Sweet 16.” SFA finished a perfect 15-0 at home for the second consecutive year and has run its home-court win streak to 33 games, which is tied with Duke for the best in Division I. The team’s 26-game overall win streak obliterated the former conference record of 19 set by Louisiana Tech in 1992-93 and 1993-94 and ranks second in the nation, behind only Wichita St. SFA leads the nation with 14 road wins this season and their current 12-game road win streak is tied with Wichita St. for the national lead. Underwood follows former SFA coach Danny Kaspar, who won the award last season, and is the fourth Lumberjack recipient of the honor. Kaspar was a two-time Southland coach of the year (2008 and 2013) and Ned Fowler claimed the honor in 1991.
Parker headlines the all-conference teams as one of five players named to the first team, followed by Haymon and Walkup on the second and third teams, respectively.
Haymon, a native of Pickens, Miss., garnered the first All-SLC honor of his career, with a memorable final season as a ‘Jack. Haymon finishes the regular season 12th in scoring (14.2) and 16th in assists (2.8). In conference play, Haymon finished fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3), tied for 12th in assists (3.5) and 14th in the league in scoring (14.2). Haymon recorded a career-high 36 points against Cal State Northridge, tying the most scored by a Southland player in a single game this season. At Lamar, Haymon scored 30 points against the Cardinals to become SFA’s most recent member of the 1,000-point club. Then at Southeastern Louisiana, Haymon became SFA’s all-time winningest player in the Division I era with the 92nd of his career to pass Eddie Williams.
Walkup’s efforts were recognized on two fronts, with a third team All-SLC honor and being tabbed to the league’s all-defensive team. The native of Pasadena, Texas, finished sixth in field goal percentage (.561), 20th in the league in scoring (12.9) and 13th in offensive rebounds (2.2), on the season. In conference play, Walkup led SFA and ranked 11th in the SLC in scoring (14.7), third in the field goal percentage (.629), eighth in free throw percentage (.817), 10th in offensive rebounds (2.3) and 20th in rebounding (5.5). Walkup’s defensive effort also helped the ‘Jacks go undefeated in league play, winning by a margin of 15.7 per game.
Ten conference teams placed at least one player on the all-conference teams, led by first-place SFA, who landed three players – one on each of the three teams. Northwestern State, Oral Roberts and Sam Houston State each garnered two selections. Central Arkansas, McNeese State, Nicholls and A&M-Corpus Christi were joined by first-year members UIW and New Orleans with one selection each.
All three all-conference teams, including six additional honorable mention selections, and the all-defensive team are listed below.
The top-seeded ‘Jacks enter the SLC Tournament on a two-game bye. SFA will not play until Friday, Mar. 14, in the semifinal game, playing the winner of the Thursday’s game in its bracket.
2013-14 All-Southland Conference Men’s Basketball Teams
2 indicates two-time all-conference selection
Honorable Mention: Nimrod Hilliard, Lamar; Kevin Hardy, McNeese State; Desharick Guidry, McNeese State; JaMichael Hawkins, Southeastern Louisiana; Brison White, Northwestern State; Zeek Woodley, Northwestern State.
2 indicates two-time all-defensive team selection
Player of the Year: Jacob Parker, Stephen F. Austin