MACON, Ga. On the eve of its Atlantic Sun quarterfinal showdown with North Florida, the FGCU men's basketball team took home two of the league's biggest postseason awards Tuesday afternoon when senior Sherwood Brown was deemed the A-Sun Player of the Year and sophomore Bernard Thompson was tabbed the Defensive Player of the Year in a vote conducted among the conference head coaches.
Brown coupled his Player of the Year honors with being one of two unanimous choices to the A-Sun All-Conference first team, becoming the first FGCU player since it joined the league in 2007-08 to be named to the first team. Forward Chase Fieler was recognized for his breakout junior campaign by being named to the All-Conference second squad.
FGCU is the first team in A-Sun history to win both the Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season. The A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year honor was started in 2003-04.
Brown has thrived under second-year head coach Andy Enfield, propelling his 2011-12 breakout junior campaign in which he earned All-Conference second team honors and was named to the A-Sun All-Tournament squad into one of FGCU's best individual seasons. The Orlando, Fla. product ranks eighth in the A-Sun in both scoring (15.2) and rebounding (6.3) to sit as one of just three players in the top 10 of both categories. Brown stepped his play in A-Sun action, moving into the top 5 in scoring (16.1) and rebounding (7.3) in league only games, while becoming the first player in program history to record four consecutive double-doubles.
One of just three players in program history to score 1,000 points, Brown became the first to add 500 rebounds to the mix and with his 63 trifectas this season he pushed his career total to over 150. Brown has scored in double figures in a team-best 26 games, including seven 20-point outings, while leading the team in points 13 times (10-3). A three-time A-Sun Player of the Week this season, Brown is just 29 rebounds shy of FGCU's all-time record.
Thompson's lengthy 6-foot-3 frame and great anticipation has helped the sophomore break the program single-season record for steals and take aim at the A-Sun record. His 88 steals is the second-best total in the nation, while Thompson's 2.84 thefts per contest are good for sixth in the country. Thompson broke the FGCU record in style on Feb. 22 at Stetson, equaling a career-high with six steals, a mark which he also set against the Hatters earlier in the year on Jan. 25.
Currently seventh in the A-Sun single-season record books, Thompson's 88 steals are made up of 23 multi-steal performances, 10 outings of four or more, including six of at least five. Even more impressive, Thompson's 88 steals have led directly to 117 FGCU points (3.8 per game), including 48 of his own. The Conyers, Ga. product also adds 14.1 points per game to rank 10th in the A-Sun.
Fieler has made the biggest strides in his game from last season, setting career-highs of 11.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game this season while starting all 31 contests. The Parkersburg, W. Va. product has reached double figures 23 times 15 of 18 A-Sun games after doing so 15 times over his first two years combined.
No. 2 seed FGCU (21-10, 13-5 A-Sun) will take on No. 7 seed North Florida (13-18, 8-10 A-Sun) on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. in the A-Sun quarterfinal round in Macon, Ga. Tip is slated for 2:30 p.m. and can be seen nationally on ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court.