Cleveland, Ohio - Today the Mid-American Conference announced that Toledo’s Julius Brown and Akron teammates Zeke Marshall and Quincy Diggs have earned top honors for the 2011-12 basketball season. Brown was named Freshman of Year, Marshall tabbed as Defensive Player of the Year and Diggs was selected as this year’s Sixth Man of the Year. The Freshman of the Year award was voted on by a 24-member MAC News Media Association Panel, while the Defensive Player of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year were voted on by the league’s head coaches.
Brown has started all of the Rockets’ 32 games at point guard and leads all MAC freshman with 11.9 points, 5.0 assists and a 1.5 assist/turnover ratio. In the overall rankings, Brown ranks fourth in assists, seventh in assist/turnover ratio and 15th in scoring. He also is sixth nationally among freshman in assists.
“I’m very happy for Julius and his family that he is receiving this award,” Toledo Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk said. “I thought he was the best freshman in the MAC this season, and he’s extremely deserving of this honor. He possesses tremendous talent, is a hard worker and is extremely coachable. The fact that he is going to be a Rocket for three more years bodes well for our future.”
Brown is the sixth Rocket to earn this honor, and the first since Justin Ingram captured the award in 2004. Toledo is the only MAC program to receive the award on six occasions in the award’s 34-year history. Ball State and Ohio players have each received the award on five occasions.
Marshall has become one of the dominant defensive big men in the nation in helping the Zips defense this season. His 89 blocked shots this season are tied for the 11th-most in the nation while his 2.9 blocked shots/game average is tied for the 13th-best mark nationally. He has sent back 8.80 percent of the shots taken while on the court this season, the top mark in the MAC and the 12th-best percentage in the nation. Marshall has more blocked shots than four MAC and 123 teams nationally this year.
“When Zeke is in top form, he makes it very difficult for any player to score over him and allows us to play at a different level defensively,” Akron Head Coach Keith Dambrot said. “As he continues to improve his discipline and ability to stay out of foul trouble, he will continue to be a menace for our opponents.”
This season, Marshall broke the Akron career (240) and junior season (89) blocked shots records en route to becoming the eighth player in Mid-American Conference history with 200 career blocked shots (currently ranked fifth). He is currently 18 blocked shots ahead of his pace from last season’s school record of 92 blocked shots and, with a career average of 2.4 blocked shots per game, should break the MAC career blocked shots mark of 301 (Lonnie Jones, BSU, 1998-02) sometime during MAC play next season.
Diggs has been one of the keys for success for the Zips this season. After starting the first seven games of the season, Diggs took the leadership role of the Akron reserves, providing a spark on the bench in addition to playing minutes a point guard, a position he hasn’t played until this season. Diggs opened the season with a 19 point, four rebound performance in Akron’s 68-58 win at Mississippi State on his way to his first MAC Player of the Week honor. After teammate Alex Abreu hurt his knee in a Nov. 19 game against Duquesne, Diggs slid over to the point guard position where he dished out a career-high nine assists.
“Early in the season, Quincy volunteered to come of the bench, which is an attribute to his team-first attitude,” Dambrot said. “His ability to provide explosiveness off the bench has made us a better team.”
For the season, Diggs is averaging 8.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He has connected on 43.6 percent of his shots (82-of-188), is shooting 34.7 percent from long range (25-of-72) and has recorded an assist on 17.4 percent of the buckets made by the Zips while on the floor.
The All-MAC Team and All-Freshman Team will be announced tomorrow. FirstEnergy MAC Men’s Basketball second-round games will take place tomorrow night as No. 12 Northern Illinois takes on No. 8 Western Michigan (7 p.m.), while No. 11 Central Michigan battles No. 7 Toledo (9:30 p.m.). For more information visit MAC Tournament Central by clicking HERE.
MAC Freshman of the Year Voting
Julius Brown, Toledo (15 votes)
Brian Sullivan, Miami (5 votes)
Austin McBroom, Central Michigan (2 votes)
Abdel Nader, Northern Illinois (1 vote)