(This story was released Feb. 27, 2007, by the Atlantic Sun Conference office.)
MACON, Ga. – ETSU’s Courtney Pigram quickly became one of the most dangerous offensive players in the entire Atlantic Sun Conference while leading the Bucs to their first league title and as a result, claimed A-Sun Player of the Year honors as voted by the league’s head coaches.
The sophomore jumped out of the shadows of last season’s conference Player of the Year and 2005-06 teammate Tim Smith by averaging a team-best 17.2 points per game and leading the A-Sun by drilling 2.70 three-pointers per game. Pigram scored 20 or more points in six conference contests and saved some of his best outings for the team’s biggest games. Against second place Belmont, Pigram averaged 19.5 points per game and put up 23 points in the regular season title clinching game at Kennesaw State. The Memphis, Tenn., native scored 34 points at Lipscomb to snap the Bisons’ 18-game home winning streak, and in his last outing, Pigram dished out a conference record 18 assists.
Lipscomb senior stopper Brian Fisk became just the second different winner of the A-Sun’s newest award, Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-2 guard helped Lipscomb limit the opposition to just over 65 points per game. One year after losing one of the most prolific scorers in school history, ETSU’s Murry Bartow was tabbed A-Sun Coach of the Year by his peers. The Bucs finished with the league’s best record at 22-8 with a 16-2 conference mark and have clinched their first postseason trip since 2003-04. Mercer guard James Florence won the tightest race for any award to be named Freshman of the Year. The Marietta, Ga., native averaged a league-best 19.7 points per game and joined Kevin Durant of Texas as the only freshmen to lead their conferences in scoring this season.
Pigram and Florence both landed on the All-Atlantic Sun first team. Last year’s Tournament MVP Justin Hare joined the guard oriented first team after leading Belmont in scoring and adding to his reputation as a clutch player with some outstanding performances in the final minutes of games as a junior. Another freshman sensation earned first team honors as Campbell’s Jonathan Rodriguez was selected for the squad. The Miami, Fla., native ranked in the top-15 in nine different conference statistics and led the league in rebounding. Jacksonville’s Jesse Kimbrough became the only senior on the squad, rebounding from a season-ending injury last season to lead the Dolphins to one of the most impressive turnarounds in A-Sun history.
Shaddean Aaron (Mercer), Eddie Ard (Lipscomb), Brian Fisk (Lipscomb), Chris Gash (Gardner-Webb), Boomer Herndon (Belmont), Brad Nuckles (ETSU) and Ronell Wooten (Kennesaw State) comprised the second team. Lehmon Colbert (Jacksonville), Ben Smith (Jacksonville) and Mike Smith (ETSU) join Florence and Rodriguez to round out the All-Freshmen squad. The first team was made up of two freshmen, a sophomore, a junior and one senior making it one of the youngest groups honored. Jacksonville and ETSU each had a league-best three student-athletes honored.
Fourteen of the 15 student-athletes honored by the conference office will participate in the 2007 General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Championship. The tournament opens on Thursday with four games, beginning at 1 p.m.