FAIRMONT - West Liberty University senior standout Cedric Harris has been honored as the 2014 Daktronics NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Player of the Year.
Teammate C.J. Hester was a second team all-region pick as the Hilltoppers were the only team with multiple selections. Six of this season's 10 performers will be in action this weekend when the Atlantic Regional tournament tips off at East Stroudsburg.
The Atlantic Region team is comprised of players from the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), the Mountain East Conference (MEC) and the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC). The team is voted on by the NCAA Division II members of the College Sports Information Directors of America (D2SIDA) in the Atlantic Region. Harris and the other first-team selections advance to the ballot for the 2014 All-America Team.
Photo by SAM SANTILLI
WLU's Cedric Harris
A 6-foot guard from Zanesville who transferred to West Liberty after playing one season at Wheeling Jesuit, Harris was a second team all-region choice a year ago and has been a first team all-conference pick in all three seasons with the Hilltoppers. He was named the 2014 MEC Player of the Year earlier this month.
The leading scorer (17.6 ppg.) on the nation's highest-scoring team, Harris led No. 7 West Liberty to its fifth consecutive conference championship and NCAA Tournament bid. In addition to his scoring numbers, the playmaking point guard leads the Atlantic Region and ranks among the Top 20 nationally in steals and assist/turnover ratio while leading the MEC and ranking No. 2 in the region with an average of more than 5.6 assists per game.
Harris leads WLU this season with 25 double-figure scoring games and a dozen 20-point nights. One of his highlight-reel performances came last month at UVA-Wise when he scored 19 points, handed out 16 assists and grabbed nine rebounds to key a 105-92 West Liberty victory. The 16 assists were the second-highest single-game total in the nation this season. Heading into this weekend's regional tournament, Harris has racked up more than 2,000 points, 600 assists, 400 rebounds and 200 steals during his four-year career.
Joining the Hilltoppers (26-3) standout as first-teamers are East Stroudsburg junior guard Whis Grant (16.9 ppg.), a repeat selection, along with Gannon junior guard Adam Blazek (16.4 ppg.), Lock Haven junior guard Wali Hepburn (21.9 ppg.) and Livingstone senior guard Mark Thomas (20.9 ppg.)
Hester, a 6-4 junior from West Mifflin, Pa., is already a two-time NCAA Division II Academic All-American and was a first team All-MEC pick earlier this month. He's leading the Hilltoppers in rebounding (8.2 rpg.) for the third consecutive season and ranks among the Top 15 nationally in field-goal percentage (174-for-275, .633) while averaging nearly 15 points per game. He's already passed the 1,300-point and 800-rebound career milestones and set a school record last month by going 7-for-7 from behind the 3-point arc in a victory at Glenville State. The seven 3-pointers without a miss is tops in the nation this season.
Joining Hester as second-team honorees are juniors Joe Bell (21.8 ppg.) of Mansfield and Lawrence DeArmond (21.5 ppg.) of Notre Dame along with seniors Lamar Mallory (18.7 ppg.) of Glenville State and Shepherd's Brantley Osborne (19.1 ppg.).
West Liberty tips off its quest for an unprecedented fourth consecutive Atlantic Region title at 2:30 on Saturday when the No. 2 seeded Hilltoppers take on No. 7 seed Glenville State (18-10) in a regional quarterfinal at East Stroudsburg's Koehler Fieldhouse.