Sun Belt Conference names USM’s Ladner Coach of the Year, Crowley Newcomer of the Year

USM head coach Jay Ladner was named the Joe Gottfried Coach of the Year, and junior guard...
USM head coach Jay Ladner was named the Joe Gottfried Coach of the Year, and junior guard Austin Crowley was named the Sun Belt's Newcomer of the Year.(Sun Belt Conference)
Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 5:50 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi men’s basketball team is racking up regular-season awards as three players and head coach Jay Ladner received All-Sun Belt honors.

The Sun Belt Conference released its regular-season award recipients Monday as the league’s 14 head coaches voted upon them.

USM head coach Jay Ladner was named the Joe Gottfried Coach of the Year after producing one of the best turnarounds in NCAA Division I basketball history. He’s the first coach to win coach of the year honors since Larry Eustachy in 2012.

Ladner’s Golden Eagles have picked up 25 wins after finishing with seven a season ago. The 18-win swing is two shy of tying the record for the best turnaround in NCAA history that Iowa State set during the 2021-22 season. Southern Miss has also set numerous records under Ladner’s leadership this season.

The Golden Eagles’ 25 wins are tied for the most in Southern Miss’ Division I era, just four wins short of tying the most wins in program history. The team also went 15-0 at Reed Green Coliseum to tie the 2011-12 team for the best home winning percentage in program history.

USM finished Sun Belt play with 14 wins to tie the 1949-50 team for the most conference wins in a single season.

Junior guard Austin Crowley was named the Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year after finishing the regular season as Southern Miss’ leading scorer, averaging 16.2 points per game and has a team-leading 61 steals. He also picked up First Team All-Sun Belt honors.

Crowley is the first Golden Eagle to win a conference newcomer of the year award since Dwayne Davis was named Conference USA Newcomer of the Year in 2013.

The West Point native and University of Mississippi transfer is 10 steals away from tying the single-season record set by Cortez Edwards. He has scored 20-plus points 10 times and finished in double figures in 24 games this season.

Crowley scored a career-high 30 points in a win over Appalachian State University on Dec. 31. During one of Southern Miss’ most important games, he scored 25 points at Liberty University to help the Golden Eagles grab a big road win, as well as put up 25 points in a home win against rival University of South Alabama in mid-January. He also had a career-high six steals against Winthrop to help the Golden Eagles capture the Cancun Challenge title in Cancun, Mexico.

Graduate forward Felipe Haase was named Second Team All-Sun Belt, while senior forward DeAndre Pinckney earned Third Team All-Sun Belt Honors.

Haase, who is averaging 15.2 points per game and has dished 94 assists so far this season, is receiving his second-straight second-team honor as the Osorno, Chile native was named All-SoCon Second Team last season at Mercer University.

The big man scored a season-high 28 points against Lamar University in December and then put up 26 points at Texas State University to help USM clinch the regular season championship, scoring at least 20 points in seven games, including 24 games with at least 10 points. He’s also had two double-double games and had six games with at least five assists.

Pinckney was named a third-teamer after averaging 13.2 points per game and 14.4 points per game in Sun Belt play, as well as averaging a team-high 6.5 rebounds per game in league play.

The Carol City, Fla. native and three-year player scored a career-high 28 points against James Madison University and had seven double-doubles this season. He pulled down 13 rebounds twice, had five assists in two different games and scored 10-plus points in 22 games and in 16 Sun Belt games.

Crowley, Haase and Pinkney are the first three Golden Eagles to land on all-conference teams in a single season since the 1987-88 season.

The full breakdown of the 2022-23 Sun Belt Conference Men’s Basketball Postseason Awards is listed below:

  • Player of the Year: Taevion Kinsey, Marshall University (Sr., G - Columbus, Ohio)
  • Defensive Player of the Year: Kevin Samuel, South Alabama (Gr., C - Codrington Village, Barbuda)
  • Newcomer of the Year: Austin Crowley, Southern Miss (Jr., G - West Point, Miss.)
  • Freshman of the Year: Micah Handlogten, Marshall (Fr., C – Huntersville, N.C.)
  • Sixth Man of the Year: Terrence Edwards, James Madison (R-So., G/F – Atlanta, Ga.)
  • Joe Gottfried Coach of the Year: Jay Ladner, Southern Miss (4th season)
  • All-Sun Belt First Team
    • Jordan Brown, University of Louisiana at Lafayette (Jr., F - Roseville, Calif.)
    • Taevion Kinsey, Marshall (Sr., G - Columbus, Ohio)
    • Andrew Taylor, Marshall (Sr. G - Corbin, Ky.)
    • Isaiah Moore, South Alabama (Gr., G - Temple Hills, Md.)
    • Austin Crowley, Southern Miss (Jr., G - West Point, Miss.)
  • All Sun-Belt Second Team
    • Andrei Savrasov, Georgia Southern University (Sr., F - St. Petersburg, Russia)
    • Terrence Edwards, James Madison (R-So., G/F - Atlanta, Ga.)
    • Greg Williams, Jr., Louisiana (Sr., G - Lafayette, La.)
    • Felipe Haase, Southern Miss (Gr., F - Osorno, Chile)
    • Zay Williams, Troy University (Sr., F - Birmingham, Ala.)
  • All-Sun Belt Third Team
    • Donovan Gregory, App. State (Sr., F - Charlotte, N.C.)
    • Jamari Blackmon, University of Louisiana at Monroe (Sr., G - Hoover, Ala.)
    • Chaunce Jenkins, Old Dominion University (So., G - Newport News, Va.)
    • Kevin Samuel, South Alabama (Gr., C - Codrington Village, Barbuda)
    • DeAndre Pinckney, Southern Miss (Sr., F - Carol City, Fla.)
    • Mason Harrell, Texas State University (Sr., G - Midwest City, Okla.)

Later this week, the Golden Eagles will head to Pensacola, Fla. for the Hercules Tires Sun Belt Conference Men’s Basketball Championship, which will take place from February 28 through March 6 at the Pensacola Bay Center. Southern Miss will play the winner of the South Alabama and Appalachian State game Saturday, Feb. 4 at 11:30 a.m.

For more information on the Sun Belt Conference Championship, click here.

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