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    Smith Named Southland Player Of The Year
    Taylor Smith became the third Lumberjack to win Southland Conference Player of the Year honors on Tuessday.
    Taylor Smith became the third Lumberjack to win Southland Conference Player of the Year honors on Tuessday.

    March 12, 2013

    FRISCO, Texas - Stephen F. Austin senior Taylor Smith has been named the 2012-13 Southland Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Year and the by a vote of the league's head coaches and sports information directors, the conference office announced Tuesday in conjunction with the release of the all-conference basketball teams.

    He also was selected as the conference defensive player of the year. Additionally, head coach Danny Kaspar was named the league's coach of the year for the second time in his career. Senior guards Antonio Bostic and Hal Bateman were each named to the all-SLC second team and junior Desmond Haymon was an honorable mention all-SLC choice.

    SFA also took up three of the five spots on the league's inaugural all-defensive team in Smith, Bostic and Bateman.

    Smith paced the Lumberjacks to their first Southland regular-season conference championship since it won back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009. The forward from Schertz, Texas, is the NCAA Division I leader with a field-goal percentage of 68.8 and ranks second in the conference in rebounding (9.0) and fifth in scoring (15.6).

    Smith led the Lumberjacks to a perfect 15-0 home record and scored double figures in 26 of the teams' 29 games. He finished the regular season with 11 double-doubles, including a 21-point, 18-rebound effort against McNeese State, Jan. 30. Smith dropped a season-high 25 points to go with 14 rebounds in SFA's conference opener against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. He recorded seven 20-point games this season, including a span of four consecutive games in early February.

    Smith is the third Lumberjack to earn the award and first since Josh Alexander and Matt Kingsley won the award in consecutive seasons in 2008 and 2009.

    Smith also earned the conference's inaugural defensive player of the year award after earning his league's defensive player of the year award twice in his two years at McLennan Community College prior to coming to SFA. The `Jacks lead the nation in scoring defense, holding opponents to 50.2 points and leads the Southland in field goal percentage defense (37.0) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (27.4).

    Smith set the school record with 87 blocked shots this season and is averaging 3.0 blocks per game. His 129 two-season total at SFA also is the school's new standard. The senior led the conference in defensive rebounds (6.2) and finished sixth in minutes played (33.3). Smith and the Lumberjack defense has not allowed a team to score more than 69 points in any game this season.

    For Bostic, it is the second straight season he has earned postseason honors after being named to the all-SLC first team last year. His second team selection this season was justified after averaging 10.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game this season. He has been on fire of late, averaging 16 points per game in his last four contests and hitting 45 percent of his shots in that span. In addition to his offense, Bostic is also tied with Bateman for sixth in the league with 1.6 steals per game and routinely was assigned to guard the opposition's top perimeter threat.

    Meanwhile, Bateman's selection is his first such selection as a Lumberjack and comes after a breakout senior season. A native of Davenport, Iowa, Bateman currently leads the Southland with 5.7 assists per game to go with 7.2 points and 1.6 steals. He has dished out at least five assists in 21 games this year and is the first Lumberjack since Marcus Clark in 2004 to have multiple games with at least 10 assists.

    Haymon averaged 10 points per game this season and his honorable mention choice is also his first such honor, coming on the heels of a strong finish to the regular season in which he scored at least 12 points in each of SFA's final four games. Included in that was a 17-point output in the finale vs Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and hitting the game-winning shot with less than 12 seconds to play in SFA's win over Northwestern State that gave it the inside track to claiming the league title.

    Kaspar picked up Southland coach of the year honors for the second time in his 13 seasons after leading the `Jacks to their third Southland crown and first since winning titles in consecutive seasons in 2008 and 2009. SFA brings a 26-3 record into this week's conference tournament and finished league play with a 16-2 record. SFA is the first Southland team in its 50-year history to win 26 games before the conference tournament, surpassing the previous record of 25 wins (two losses) set by Louisiana Tech in 1985-86 during its run to the NCAA Sweet 16. The Bulldogs ended the season with a 29-3 record.

    SFA's 26 overall victories ties the school mark for wins in a season in its Division I era while the 16 league victories tied the program's win total in the 2002-03 season. SFA, ranked No. 5 in this week's Mid-Major Top 25 Poll, leads the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 50.2 points per contest. Kaspar earned his first coach of the year award in 2008. Former SFA coach Ned Fowler won the award in 1991.

    SFA will begin its pursuit of an NCAA Tournament berth on Friday when the top-seeded Lumberjacks play an opponent to be determined in the Southland Conference Tournament semifinals at 5:00 p.m. in Katy, Texas.