By: Andrew Gavin (@GBGavin)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - The Horizon League office announced its postseason award winners on Monday afternoon, and a trio of Green Bay players were honored for impressive seasons. Sophomore Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) was named to the All-Horizon League First Team, junior Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) was named to the All-Horizon League Second Team and freshman Jordan Fouse (Racine, Wis.) earned a spot on the All-Newcomer Team, finishing second in Newcomer of the Year voting.
In helping the Phoenix lead the Horizon League in conference play in field goal percentage defense, rebounding and blocked shots, Brown and Fouse were both also named to the All-Defensive Team. Fouse is the first freshman named to the team since Terry Evans in 2005-06. The awards also mark the first time two Phoenix players were voted to the All-Defensive Team since 1997-98.
Sykes has built off a tremendous freshman campaign with an even better sophomore season. The 5-foot-11 point guard from Chicago has reached double figures in 27 of 30 games and ranks fourth in the Horizon League in points per game (15.4). He is one of only two players in the conference to win at least three player of the week awards this season, with Valparaiso's Ryan Broekhoff being the other.
Including a career-high 31 points in the season opener, Sykes has scored 20 or more points seven times this season. He has done much of his damage in the clutch, averaging 9.2 points per game after halftime. In Horizon League road wins at Cleveland State and Youngstown State in mid-February, Sykes scored 19 second-half points in back-to-back games.
The point guard has not just improved his scoring numbers, but he has also increased his production in assists, rebounds and steals. Sykes ranks tied for fourth in assists per game (4.2) in the Horizon League overall and second in league play (4.4).
He has vastly improved his shooting percentages from the three-point line and free-throw line. Making 17 more three-pointers, Sykes is making 42.1 percent from long range, up nearly 20 percent from his freshman season. Sykes is 142-173 from the charity stripe, ranking first in the conference in free throws made and eighth in free-throw percentage (82.1 percent).
Brown has been at his best in Horizon League play, ranking fourth in the league in conference play in points per game (15.6). In league action, the 7-foot-1 junior also ranked second in blocks (2.6), fourth in three-point percentage (.444) and ninth free-throw percentage (.811).
On three different occasions in league play, Brown has topped his career high. He had 23 points at Milwaukee on Jan. 25 to become the program's 25th member of the 1,000-point club. On Feb. 2, Brown made 10-of-14 shots at Loyola en route to 25 points. Most recently, Brown made 10-of-12 shots and a career-high four three-pointers as part of a 28-point effort against Milwaukee on Feb. 26.
For the season, Brown is averaging 13.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. He ranks in the league's top-10 in points, rebounds, blocked shots, offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds. If he had enough attempts to qualify, Brown would be tied for second in the league in three-point percentage.
A 2011-12 All-Horizon League First-Team selection, Brown has accumulated 1,145 points, 603 rebounds and 211 blocks in 92 career games. The Green Bay career leader in blocks ranks third all-time in Horizon League history and is one of only three players to have played in the conference to reach 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 blocked shots.
Despite being a true freshman, Fouse has been among the most consistent Green Bay players this season. Along with Brown and Sykes, he is one of three Phoenix players to start all 30 games and is averaging 6.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. The only player in the Horizon League to rank in the top-10 in rebounds, steals and blocks, Fouse ranked in the top-3 in each category.
The top rebounder in the conference, Fouse broke the Phoenix freshman record for rebounds in a season, a record set by Dennis Woeffler which had stood since 1969-70. Fouse grabbed 10 rebounds in his first college game, never had less than three boards and has collected five or more in each of Green Bay's past 15 contests.
A premier defender, Fouse has been instrumental in helping the Phoenix lead the league in field goal percentage defense, rebounding margin and blocked shots in conference play. The 6-foot-7 freshman broke the program record for steals in a season with 52, including tying the program's single-game record with seven on Jan. 9 against Loyola.
Fouse's 43 blocks this season are the seventh-most in team history and the second-most by a Phoenix freshman (Alec Brown's 67 in 2010-11). With five more blocks, Fouse will have swatted more shots in a season than any Green Bay player not named Alec Brown. That duo helped Green Bay break the program record for blocks in a season (143), a record previously set last season.
The freshman has three double-doubles and was been named Horizon League Newcomer of the Week twice, including after a 17-point, 10-rebound, 4-assist, 4-steal and 3-block effort against Cleveland State on Jan. 19.
Tickets are just $11 for adults and $7 for youth and are available at all TicketStar locations, the Resch Center box office (open 11 AM-5 PM Monday and 11 AM-game time on Tuesday), by calling 800-895-0071 or online at ticketstaronline.com.
The winners of the first round games will advance to the quarterfinals on Friday night in Valparaiso, Ind. The Green Bay-Milwaukee winner will face the winner of the No. 5 UIC-No. 8 Cleveland State game in the quarterfinals on Friday night.
Green Bay swept the Panthers in the regular season, including a 79-61 victory at the Resch Center on Tuesday, Feb. 26, the final regular season game of the year for Milwaukee. Brown scored 51 points in two games against the Panthers this season, including a career-high 28 points last Tuesday.
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