By: Andrew Gavin (@GBGavin)
GREEN BAY, Wis.
(GreenBayPhoenix.com) - Last March,
GreenBayPhoenix.com highlighted the season of freshman Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) after the big man scored the most points
by a Phoenix freshman in 10 years. Now just a year later, another freshman
deserves his season touted as one of the best rookie campaigns in Green Bay
history after scoring more points as a freshman since Tony Bennett in 1988-89.
Freshman Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) arrived in Green Bay in June 2011 at 17. At the time,
he was the nation's youngest player fighting for minutes. By the team's opener
on Nov. 11, he was the Phoenix starting point guard. On Dec. 30, he turned 18
and began a stretch of basketball that drew the attention of many around the
In the final 17 games, Sykes led the Phoenix in
scoring at 14.7 points per game while dishing out 4.8 assists and shooting 49.7
percent from the floor. The Chicagoan scored in double figures 15 times, including
a stretch of 10 games in a row, and scored 20 or more points three times.
In the regular
season finale against UIC in his hometown, Sykes led a Phoenix win by
scoring a career-high 27 points and adding six assists, a performance that
earned him co-Horizon
Player of the Week honors.
Sykes was the league's top freshman, leading the
conference with averages of 11.2 points, 3.4 assists and an assist-to-turnover
ratio of 1.5-to-1. In league play, Sykes was eighth among all players in
scoring (13.8), third in assists (4.5) and tied for first in assist-to-TO ratio
(2.0). He was named to the Horizon League All-Newcomer Team and was the
runner-up for Newcomer of the Year honors.
The season that the young point guard compiled was
among the best by a freshman in Green Bay's Division I history. Sykes' 335
points were the third-most by a freshman in the Division I era and the most
since Bennett scored 516. His 101 assists were the third-most in school history
by a freshman, behind only Bennett's 138 and Gary Grzesk's 118 in 1992-93.
The top-5 Performances
from Sykes' freshman campaign:
5. Jan. 14 vs. Wright State: Sykes completed an
improbable comeback from 17 points down by sinking two free throws with 3.0
seconds left to give Green
Bay a 57-56 win at the Resch Center. He finished with 16 points.
4. Milwaukee (x2): Sykes showed he enjoyed playing
against a rival, hitting 10 field goals and scoring
20 points at Milwaukee on Jan. 7 before going 10-of-14 from the field for 25
points against the Panthers at home on Feb. 4.
3. Feb. 14 vs. Youngstown State: The freshman was part
of a historic
double-double combination against Youngstown State, posting
17 points, 10 assists and zero turnovers in a win over YSU. Sykes'
10-assist game was the first by a Phoenix player since Rahmon Fletcher had 10
against Vermont on March 18, 2009 and the first 10-assist game in a Horizon
League game by a Green Bay player since Feb. 3, 2007.
2. Jan. 28 vs. Butler: In leading Green
Bay to a win over Butler on ESPNU, Sykes scored in three different jerseys
during a game in which he left three times due to a collision. As he scored 16
points against Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year Ronald Nored, Sykes'
"bloody good game" on a national stage brought a lot of attention. Watch
highlights of the game. Watch
Sykes score in all three jerseys.
1. Feb. 25 at UIC: Sykes saved his best game of the
year for his homecoming, scoring
27 points against UIC in the Windy City as Green Bay swept a Chicago road weekend
for the first time. He scored 14 points in the final eight minutes and also
tallied six assists in the game. Watch highlights
of the effort.
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