As expected 6’1″ point guard Mike L’Africain – following in the footsteps of graduated former teammate Johnny Berhanemeskel – has been named OUA Player-of-the-Year in voting completed by the 17 OUA coaches. Very worthy of the honor, the slick point guard punctuated his selection this past Saturday night with a last second take to the rim that allowed the Gee-Gees to escape with a one-point win over Queen’s and advance to Friday’s Wilson Cup Final Four semi-final in Toronto. It was a fitting finish to L’Africain’s final home game of his career at Montpetit Hall. L’Africain was also instrumental in keeping the Gee-Gees very competitive while 6’3″ Caleb Agada was out with his ankle injury (only one loss at Ryerson in a game that went down to the final possession plus a pair of 30+ point games in Agada’s absence). (incidentally, does uOttawa get a wild card if they lose the Queen’s game ? … comments welcomed)
The rest of the All-Stars differ from the historically-normal five man teams – OUA, possibly in our modern world of inclusion of as many as possible – has decided to name 10 (ten) First Team All-Stars and 10 (ten) Second Team All-Stars. Teammates Agada and 6’8″ Nathan McCarthy joined L’Africain as All-Stars. In many observers eyes, Agada was odds-on favorite to win this award prior to his severe ankle injury against Carleton in late January that caused him to miss several games and, if recent performances are any indication, his wheel remains less than 100%. McCarthy’s selection was, frankly, a bit of a head scratcher – taking nothing away from the veteran post however a player like 6’6″ Matt Plunkett made more meaningful plays – several big shots in big games at key moments – and usually covered tougher checks inside and out in big games.
The first ten names on the list in my opinion are very reasonable as a Top 10 although debate could easily occur regarding the specific order. 6’3″ Connor Wood played Saturday’s playoff game like a Top 5 guy – dialed in, making shots, rebounding, defending. On the second team, the only slight eyebrow-raiser was Lakehead’s Henry Tan but I am nitpicking.
Clearly Isaiah Osborne is the most exciting and top-potential rookie – displaying his high-level acrobatics and finishes against McMaster on Saturday in the Lancers biggest game of the year to date. My choice of Simon Mikre of Laurier was rooted in my feeling of the importance of the position he plays – point guard. Impressively, Mikre ordinarily logged 32-35 minutes per game as the main decision maker and table setting for Will Coulthard and Matt Chesson among others but clearly Osborne confirmed on Saturday who was most deserving of this award.
Agada was almost a no-brainer as Defensive Player-of-the-Year – trying to think about who would even come close as a candidate – Lakehead’s 6’4″ Alex Robichaud and his bag of tricks comes to mind – a very good defender (comments welcomed). Also, congratulations to Coach Tatham, a very deserving Coach-of-the-Year in leading the Rams to the #1 seed – especially for making a point that academics will not be compromised by leaving 6’7″ J.V. Mukama at home for two important road trips in February to tend to classroom matters. The tough but honorable ploy almost cost Ryerson the #1 seed and Tatham is to be commended for taking such a tough stance when clearly Mukama – especially given the very high-level the long, athletic wing was playing at – was a key piece of his team. Other coaches and officials have commented to me how much respect that move elicited from them.
6’5″ Aaron Best got some first place votes and had he not been injured in the first half may have pushed L’Africain a bit harder. In mid-January, many were touting 6’7″ Dani Elgadi as a viable candidate – indeed some thought it was a done deal – but Elgadi, like his Badger teammates – found the final 4-5 weeks of the season to be a bit of a different animal. That experience should especially serve Elgadi and teammate Johnell Simpson well going forward.
Wilson Cup will feature 10 of the 20 All-Stars named and the Rookie-of-the-Year (Osborne from Windsor). Carleton/Ottawa at 5 PM ET on Friday starts the weekend and then the host Rams face Windsor at 8 PM ET; the two winners advance to the CIS Final 8 and Saturday night’s championship game. The third place game is also extremely important – the winner is the likely favorite for the CIS Final 8 at-large (“wild card”) bid. That will be announced sometime on Sunday, March 13th, just 4 days prior to St. Patrick’s Day Thursday – I’ve been asked to poll those in Vancouver for a list of “Green” locations for that event.
OUA Major Award Winners
Player of the Year: Mike L’Africain – Ottawa Gee-Gees
Defensive Player of the Year: Caleb Agada – Ottawa Gee-Gees
Rookie of the Year: Isiah Osborne – Windsor Lancers
Ken Shields Award: Sam Hirst – Laurentian Voyageurs
Coach of the Year: Patrick Tatham – Ryerson Rams
Officials Award of Merit: Paul Carter
OUA First-Team All-Stars
Mike L’Africain – Ottawa Gee-Gees
Caleb Agada – Ottawa Gee-Gees
Aaron Best – Ryerson Rams
Adika Peter-McNeilly – Ryerson Rams
Dani Elgadi – Brock Badgers
Kaza Kajami-Keane – Carleton Ravens
Leon Alexander – McMaster Marauders
Sukpreet Singh – Queen’s Gaels
Greg Morrow – Western Mustangs
Alex Campbell – Windsor Lancers
OUA Second-Team All-Stars
Guillaume Boucard – Carleton Ravens
Connor Wood – Carleton Ravens
Bacarius Dinkins – Lakehead Thunderwolves
Henry Tan – Lakehead Thunderwolves
Johneil Simpson – Brock Badgers
Will Coulthard – Laurier Golden Hawks
Troy Joseph – McMaster Marauders
Nathan McCarthy – Ottawa Gee-Gees
Ammanuel Diressa – Ryerson Rams
Devin Johnson – Toronto Varsity Blues
OUA All-Rookie Team
Marcus Anderson – Carleton Ravens
Stanley Mayambo – Carleton Ravens
Devon Williams – Toronto Varsity Blues
Daniel Johansson – Toronto Varsity Blues
Tyler Brown – Brock Badgers
Anthony Iacoe – Laurentian Voyageurs
Simon Mikre – Laurier Golden Hawks
Kalil Langston – Nipissing Lakers
Dylan Phillips – Waterloo Warriors
Isiah Osborne – Windsor Lancers