LMU Railsplitters Land Four On All-SAC Squad; Josh Schertz Named Conference Coach Of Year
ROCK HILL, S.C. -- Lincoln Memorial's Gerel Simmons (pictured) and Luquon Choice were named to the All-South Atlantic Conference first team, while Jalen Steele was selected to the All-SAC second team and Dorian Pinson was tagged with honorable mention distinctions, it was announced by the league office on Thursday, March 3, with the unveiling of the 2015-16 SAC men's' basketball awards.
In addition, Josh Schertz garnered his third straight SAC Coach of the Year honor and fourth in his eight-season tenure with the Railsplitters.
Behind that quartet of All-SAC representatives, the second-ranked Railsplitters (27-2) became the first team in South Atlantic Conference history to finish perfect in league play, breaking their own record for the most conference wins in single-season history by going 22-0. Lincoln Memorial won an unprecedented fourth straight SAC regular season title and captured its fifth championship in the past six seasons. Simmons finished second in the Player of the Year voting after averaging 20.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game for the Railsplitters on 53.6 percent shooting and a 47.4 percent mark from three-point range. The Accokeek, Md. native ranks fourth in the league in points per game and third in total points with 604. He also ranks third in the SAC in three-point field-goal percentage and 10th in total three-pointers made. His 209 total field goals are the second-most in the conference and the 49th-most in the country. He ranks 12th in the league with 83 assists. Simmons has hit double figures in all but two of his 29 appearances this season, surpassing the 20-point threshold 17 times with four 30-point outbursts. Simmons scored a career-high 37 points on 13-of-21 shooting in a win over Carson-Newman on November 24 and later scored 31 points on a near-perfect 11-for-13 shooting at Mars Hill on January 6. He put up back-to-back 30-point performances in mid-February to earn his second AstroTurf SAC Player of the Week award of the season, scoring 34 at Tusculum and 32 at home against Newberry. He has scored at least 20 points in seven of his last eight games. In just two seasons with the Railsplitters, Simmons, a transfer from Brevard, has racked up 951 career points to sit just 49 points away from becoming the 27th player in program history to reach the 1,000-point mark. Simmons is currently LMU's career record holder for three-point field-goal percentage at 45.7 percent, while his 116 made threes is tied for 11th on Lincoln Memorial's career sheet. Choice picked up his second straight All-SAC first team honor after piling up per-game averages of 17.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists. The Laurens, S.C. native and 2015 All-Southeast Region selection broke Lincoln Memorial's single-season record for triples by hitting 104 up to this point in the season, which ranks fifth in the nation. Choice has accomplished that feat, becoming only the second player in SAC history to hit 100 threes in two different seasons, on a 48.6 percent mark, which ranks sixth in the nation. The 6-3 guard is also ranked ninth in the SAC in total assists (95) and steals (41). Choice has produced at least 20 points in 12 games this season. He scored a career-high 38 points at Carson-Newman on January 27, a performance that was marked by a program-record 10 three-pointers. Choice hit 10 three-pointers again against Newberry on February 13, scoring 32 points to go along with six assists. He tallied 26 points with four three-pointers in a win over Anderson on January 13. Choice was a two-time AstroTurf SAC Player of the Week. Choice has scored 1,266 points in his three seasons with the Railsplitters, which ranks 17th in program history. Over that span, he has buried 265 three-pointers to rank second in school history in that department and 32 shy of Nick Sanford's career record. With 35 more threes, he would become only the third player in SAC history to hit 300 career three-pointers. With another season left, Choice ranks ninth in school history in minutes and 14th in field goals made. A one-year transfer from Mississippi State, Steele was voted to the All-SAC second team after putting up 16.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from the three. The Knoxville, Tenn. native is ranked second in the SAC and among the top 20 in the nation in three-pointers made with 94. In addition to his prolific three-point shooting, Steele has racked up 66 assists and 25 steals. Steele has reached double figures in 25 of his 28 appearances this season. The highlight of his season came on December 19, when he hit a program-record 10 three-pointers on just 12 attempts to score a career-high 40 points, earning National Player of the Week honors for that performance. He nearly hit 10 three-pointers again on February 6 at Wingate, settling for a 9-for-12 effort and 32 points. The Fulton High School graduate scored 24 points with five three-pointers in Wednesday's SAC Championship quarterfinal win over Tusculum. Arguably the Railsplitters' most valuable player, Pinson was named to the All-SAC honorable mention squad after churning out 9.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game on 56.6 percent shooting. The Greenville, S.C. native and 2014-15 SAC All-Freshman Team recipient ranked fifth in the league in rebounds per game, fifth in total assists with 108 and seventh in steals with 42. He also ranked ninth in the league by shooting 57.7 percent against SAC opponents. Pinson has been a stat filler throughout the 2015-16 campaign. In a four-overtime win at Lenoir-Rhyne on December 2, he racked up a career-high 29 points and 20 rebounds in 49 minutes of work. The game before that, he nearly recorded a triple-double with six points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Pinson produced 11 points, eight rebounds and seven assists at Coker on January 23 and posted a 17-point, 11-rebound effort against Lenoir-Rhyne on January 30. At Tusculum on February 10, he had 22 points and eight boards. He put up an 8-8-8 outing against Mars Hill. In Wednesday's SAC quarterfinal win over Tusculum, Pinson notched his third double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 boards. After leading the Railsplitters to a perfect SAC record and their fifth SAC regular-season title in the past six seasons, Schertz earned his fourth SAC Coach of the Year award and his third straight overall. Schertz guided Lincoln Memorial to its seventh straight 20-win season and sixth straight 25-win campaign. In his eight-year tenure with the Railsplitters, Schertz has compiled a 197-46 record and helped Lincoln Memorial remain in the top-25 of the NABC national poll for 88 consecutive weeks, which is the second-longest active and all-time streak in the history of the Division II rankings. The Railsplitters are currently riding a 17-game winning streak with 23 straight wins against South Atlantic Conference opponents. Lincoln Memorial is on the verge of hosting the NCAA Division II Southeast Region Tournament for the second straight year, as they have been firmly slotted at No. 1 in each of the first three region rankings. The No. 2 nationally-ranked Railsplitters take on the fifth-seeded Newberry Wolves in the SAC Championship semifinals at 5:30 on Saturday at Timmons Arena in Greenville, S.C. The winner of that game advances to the SAC title game to face the winner of No. 2 Queens and No. 3 Wingate at 4 p.m. on Sunday. 2015-16 South Atlantic Conference Men's Basketball Awards Player of the Year Keenan Palmore, Lenoir-Rhyne
Freshman of the Year Randall Shaw, Anderson Coach of the Year Josh Schertz, Lincoln Memorial All-SAC First Team Keenan Palmore, Lenoir-Rhyne Gerel Simmons, Lincoln Memorial Luquon Choice, Lincoln Memorial Rob Lewis, Queens Charles Clark, Carson-Newman Sean Morgan, Queens All-SAC Second Team Jalen Steele, Lincoln Memorial Will Perry, Lenoir-Rhyne Isiah Cureton, Wingate Sawyer Williams, Carson-Newman Darius Carter, Tusculum Jameel Taylor, Catawba All-SAC Honorable Mention Demarcus Threatt, Brevard Marquis Rankin, Queens Gerald Evans, Newberry Dorian Pinson, Lincoln Memorial Randall Shaw, Anderson Donte Samuels, Coker
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught