CLEVELAND, Ohio (March 4, 2000) -- Five first-year players who had an immediate and positive impact on their team have been honored as the 2000 Mid-American Conference All-Freshman team. The five are Theron Smith of Ball State, Brandon Hunter of Ohio, C.J. Grantham of Eastern Michigan, Andy Hipsher from Akron and Central Michigan's Chad Pleiness.
Smith, a 6-8 forward from Auburndale High School in Auburndale, Fla., helped the Cardinals to a 19-8 record and a West Division co-championship. Smith led the team in rebounding with 7.9 per game, which also ranks fifth in the league, and is second on the squad in scoring with a 12.9 points per game average. Smith's performance this season was highlighted by an outstanding performance versus then No. 24 ranked Purdue on Dec. 18. Smith scored a game-high 16 points and pulled down 11 rebounds against the Boilermakers. For the year, Smith appeared in all 27 Ball State games with 19 of those as a starter.
Hunter, a 6-7 forward from Cincinnati's Withrow High School, was the third leading scorer and second leading rebounder on a 19-12 Bobcat squad. Hunter started 30 of 31 games and averaged 11.5 points and 6.3 rebounds. His rebounding average ranked 13th in the MAC. In addition, he led the team in field goal percentage at 51.6%. In helping the Bobcats to a regular-season ending win over Kent and a first-round tournament victory over Western Michigan, Hunter made 16-of-23 field goal attempts (69.6%). He scored a season-high 24 points in Ohio's win at Central Michigan on Feb. 9.
Grantham, a 5-9 guard from Belleville High School in Belleville, Mich., led the Eagles and finished 10th in the MAC in assists with 99 while averaging 8.7 points per game. Grantham started 22 of 28 games and also had a team-high 39 steals. Three times this year he passed out seven assists in a game. Grantham was a key to the Eagles increasing their win total from five games last year to 15 this season.
Hipsher, a 6-8 forward/guard, and the son of Zips' head coach Dan Hipsher, appeared in all 28 games in helping Akron to a 17-11 record. Hipsher averaged 8.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game and dished out 53 assists. He scored a season-high 27 points in a first-round tournament loss to Central Michigan. Hipsher is a graduate of Akron Archbishop High School.
Pleiness, a 6-6 forward-center from Scottville, Mich., and Mason County Central High School, helped the Chippewas advance to the MAC Tournament quarter-final round by scoring 15 points and pulling down eight rebounds in a win over Akron. Pleiness averaged 9.1 points per game, second best on the squad, and 3.5 rebounds a contest. He played in all 28 games with 18 of those in the staring lineup. Pleiness is a walk-on who originally came to CMU as a scholarship football player.
The 2000 MAC All-Freshman Team
Player School Ht. Hometown/High School
Andy Hipsher Akron 6-8 Akron, Ohio/Archbishop
Theron Smith Ball State 6-8 Auburndale, Fla./Auburndale
Chad Pleiness Central Michigan 6-6 Scottville, Mich./Mason County Central
C.J. Grantham Eastern Michigan 5-9 Belleville, Mich./Belleville
Brandon Hunter Ohio 6-7 Cincinnati, Ohio/Withrow