HALIFAX, N.S.) – Atlantic University Sport is pleased to announce the 2015-16 AUS men’s basketball all-stars and major award winners as selected by the conference’s eight head coaches following regular season play.
Third-year UNB Varsity Reds guard Javon Masters of Kitchener, Ont. was named the Atlantic University Sport most valuable player for the second consecutive year at Thursday evening’s awards banquet held at the historic VIA Rail train station in Halifax, N.S.
Other AUS major award winners announced during the banquet were Dalhousie’s Jordan Aquino-Serjue of Montreal, who was named rookie of the year; Cape Breton’s Meshack Lufile of Burlington, Ont. who was named defensive player of the year, Acadia’s Shaquille Smith of North Preston, N.S. who received the student-athlete community service award; and Dalhousie Tigers head coach Rick Plato who was named the AUS coach of the year.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Javon Masters, UNB
Javon Masters, a third-year arts student with the UNB Varsity Reds, is theAtlantic University Sport men’s basketball most valuable player for the second consecutive season.
A native of Kitchener, Ont., Masters finished first overall in both AUS and CIS scoring this season with an average of 28 points per game. He led the country in free throws made with 165 and finished second in the country in field goals made with 185.
He also led the Atlantic conference in minutes per game, averaging 34.7, and posted the highest free throw percentage in the AUS (87.8).
In addition to being named AUS MVP, Masters was also named a 2015-16 AUS first team all-star.
He adds these to his growing list of accolades, which already include 2014-15 AUS MVP honours, a place on the 2014-15 and 2013-14 first team all-star squads as well as the 2013-14 all-rookie team, and was named 2013-14 AUS rookie of the year.
At the national level, he earned CIS rookie of the year nods in 2013. That season, he was also named a CIS second team all-Canadian and to the CIS all-rookie team. Last season, he was named a CIS first team all-Canadian.
In his third season in the conference, he has added his name to the AUS all-time record books in multiple categories this season. He already holds the all-time AUS record for career free throws made with 541. His 560 points this regular season place him second all-time for most points in a single season.
He now holds the UNB school record for career points with 1,608—good for seventh in the AUS records.
This is the third consecutive year that Masters has finished as the national scoring champion.
“Consistency is the hardest thing to achieve in sport and for Javon to produce as he does on a nightly basis is truly remarkable in itself,” said Varsity Reds head coach Brent Baker. “His offseason work is what truly differentiates him from other players.”
Masters will now be the AUS representative for the Mike Moser Memorial Trophy as the most outstanding player in CIS basketball. The last Atlantic conference player to win the CIS award was William Njoku of the Saint Mary’s Huskies in 1992-93.
Njoku is this year’s honorary chair for the 2016 Subway AUS Basketball Championships.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Jordan Aquino-Serjue, Dalhousie
The 2015-16 AUS rookie of the year is Jordan Aquino-Serjue of the CIS No. 10-ranked Dalhousie Tigers.
A 5-foot-11 guard from Montreal, Que. Aquino-Serjue played in all 20 games for the league-leading Tigers this season and started in 12.
He averaged 7.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and two assists per game. He also had 20 steals this season.
“Jordan has provided an excellent alternative when Ritchie Kanza Mata was out with a concussion, said Tigers head coach Rick Plato. “He provides stability and a scoring presence when required as well as buying into the defensive philosophy of the team. I believe that he will become one of the top two-way guard performers, for many years to come in the AUS.”
Aquino-Serjue is the third player from the Tigers to be named AUS rookie of the year and the first since the 2000-01 season when former Dalhousie standout Oreine Davis earned the honour.
He will now represent the conference as the AUS nominee for the Dr. Peter Mullins trophy. This award for CIS rookie of the year has been claimed by a player from the Atlantic conference in two of the past three seasons (UNB’s Masters in 2013-14 and UPEI’s Deontay Smith in 2012-13).
Dalhousie’s Shawn Plancke is the only other AUS player to earn the honour. He was named CIS rookie of the year in 1992-93.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Meshack Lufile, Cape Breton
Cape Breton Capers forward Meshack Lufile is the AUS defensive player of the year.
A 6-foot-8 fifth-year player from Burlington, Ont., Lufile was second in the AUS in blocks this season, posting 29. He averaged nine rebounds per game, which included 5.5 defensive rebounds per game.
In addition to his defensive prowess, his field goal percentage of 67.7 was the best in the nation. He averaged 16.2 points per game this season for the Capers.
Lufile now becomes the AUS conference nominee for the CIS defensive player of the year award.
CBU’s Phil Nkrumah and StFX’s Garry Gallimore are the only AUS players to have been named CIS defensive player of the year since the inception of the award in 2004-05.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Rick Plato, Dalhousie Tigers
Rick Plato, in this third year at the helm of the Dalhousie Tigers program, becomes just the second Dalhousie men’s basketball coach to be named AUS coach of the year.
Former Tigers head coach John Campbell earned the honour following the 2010-11 season.
This season, Coach Plato guided the CIS No. 10-ranked and defending AUS champion Tigers to a 13-7 record and a first-place finish in the regular season standings.
Dalhousie’s league-leading defence allowed the fewest points against this season—an average of just 74.1.
Last season, Plato coached the Tigers to an AUS championship banner win.
Prior to joining the Tigers, Plato began coaching the MSVU Mystics in 1989 and led the team to 14 appearances at their national championship, claiming two national medals.
Teams under his leadership won 13 ACAA conference championships and he was named ACAA coach of the year on 13 occasions. He received the national Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) coach of the year award in 2009.
Plato began his university basketball career as a player with the Saint Mary’s Huskies. He then went on to serve as an assistant coach with the Huskies men’s program from 1981 to 1984.
“Rick has done an outstanding job with our men’s basketball program in such a short period of time,” said Tigers athletic director Tim Maloney. “The success his program has experienced on and off the court is a true testament to his work ethic, passion and professionalism. We are very lucky to have Rick Plato in the Tiger family.”
Plato will now represent the AUS as the nominee for CIS coach of the year. StFX’s Steve Konchalski (2000-01) is the last Atlantic conference head coach to win the Stuart W. Aberdeen Trophy as the nation’s top university coach.
STUDENT-ATHLETE COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD: Shaquille Smith, Acadia
Shaquille Smith of the Acadia Axemen is the 2016 recipient of the AUS student-athlete community service award and will be the Atlantic conference nominee for the prestigious Ken Shields Award.
A native of North Preston, N.S., the 6-foot-4 guard averaged 16.8 points per game for the Axemen this season. He finished second in the conference in steals with the 45 on the season.
Smith boasts a 3.3 GPA in the classroom and is heavily involved in the local community.
He volunteers his time with the Acadia S.M.I.L.E. program (Sensory Motor Instructional Learning Experience), working with children with autism to develop motor, cognitive and social learning skills. In November, he was named the Acadia S.M.I.L.E. instructor of the month.
Smith also gives back to his local community by contributing to Auburn Drive High School’s Mental Health Day, talking to high school students about the time management skills required to navigate through university.
He also volunteers his time working with local basketball organizations, helping them run practices.
The last AUS player to win the CIS Ken Shields Award was former Saint Mary’s standout Harry Ezenibe who earned the honour in 2013-14.
Former Axemen standout Jordan Sheriko is the only Acadia men’s basketball player to have ever won the Ken Shields Award. He took home the honour in 2005-06.
FIRST AND SECOND TEAM ALL-STARS AND ALL-ROOKIE TEAM
The Atlantic University Sport first and second team all-stars were also announced Friday, along with this year’s all-rookie team.
First team all-stars:
Javon Masters, UNB (3rd year – Kitchener, Ont.)
Tyler Scott, UPEI (4th year – Halifax, N.S.)
Ritchie Kanza Mata, Dalhousie (4th year – Toronto, Ont.)
Brian Rouse, Saint Mary’s (4th year – Mississauga, Ont.)
Brad States, UPEI (4th year – Bathurst, N.B.)
Second team all-stars:
Vasilije Curcic, Memorial (4th year – Kragujevac, Serbia)
Meshack Lufile, Cape Breton (5th year – Burlington, Ont.)
Kyle Arseneault, Acadia (4th year – Fredericton, N.B.)
Matthew Daley, UNB (5th year – Belledune, N.B.)
Kashrell Lawrence, Dalhousie (4th year – Brampton, Ont.)
Jordan Aquino-Serjue, Dalhousie (Montreal, Que.)
Jack MacAulay, Cape Breton (Charlottetown, P.E.I.)
Amin Suleman, UPEI (Toronto, Ont.)
Tyronn King, UNB (Toronto, Ont.)
Tristen Ross, StFX (Truro, N.S.)
The 2016 Subway Atlantic University Sport men’s basketball championship runs Friday, March 4 to Sunday, March 6 and is being hosted by the AUS at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.
The championship schedule is as follows: (seeding in brackets)
Friday, March 4
Quarterfinal #1: Saint Mary’s (5) vs. UNB (4), 6:30 p.m.
Quarterfinal #2: Cape Breton (6) vs. Acadia (3), 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 5
Semifinal #1: Winner QF#1 vs. Dalhousie (1), 6:30 p.m.
Semifinal #2: Winner QF#2 vs. UPEI (2), 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 6
Final: SF1 Winner vs. SF2 Winner, 4:30 p.m.