LIU Brooklyn’s Jerome Frink Voted NEC Men’s Basketball Player of the Year
Original Source: https://northeastconference.org/news/2017/2/28/MBB_AllNECRel_1617.aspx
Somerset, NJ — With the Northeast Conference (NEC) men’s basketball regular season in the books, it’s time to hand out the hardware and honor the best-of-the-best from the 2016-17 campaign.
At the center of it all is LIU Brooklyn redshirt senior forward Jerome Frink (Jersey City, NJ/St. Anthony (FIU)), who was tabbed the NEC Player of the Year in a vote conducted by league head coaches.
NEC Rookie of the Year honors went to Saint Francis U guard Keith Braxton (Glassboro, NJ/The Lawrenceville School), while his teammate, Josh Nebo (Houston, TX/Cypress Lakes), who named the NEC Defensive Player of the Year. LIU Brooklyn senior guard Iverson Fleming (North Brunswick, NJ/North Brunswick) was recognized as the NEC’s Most Improved Player, while Jim Phelan Coach of the Year honors went to Jamion Christian of NEC regular season champion Mount St. Mary’s.
The future also looks bright for the conference with 12 of the 15 All-NEC award recipients returning next season, including seven underclassmen.
The honorees were announced this afternoon as a prelude to the 2017 NEC Men’s Basketball Tournament, which begins on Wednesday with quarterfinal play at four campus sites.
It took Frink just two years at LIU Brooklyn to help restore the Blackbirds to elite status in the NEC. After transferring from FIU following his sophomore year, the Jersey City native quickly developed into the franchise piece head coach Jack Perri could build around. He collected All-NEC first team honors as a junior before becoming the eighth LIU Brooklyn player to earn NEC Player of the Year honors in his senior campaign. Sporting a polished low post game, a reliable mid-range shot, the ability to connect from downtown and the vision to spot an open man, the 6’7” Frink is the total package. He enters the postseason third in the NEC with 17.1 ppg, and ranks second in the league with 8.9 rpg and 13 double-doubles. Frink is also tenth on the circuit in blocks (1.0), and averages 2.3 apg to rank second on the Blackbirds. This past Thursday the two-time NEC Player of the Week crossed the 1,000-point plateau in his time at LIU and has compiled over 1,600 points in his college career. Frink joins Carey Scurry (1983-84 & 1984-85), Joe Griffin (1994-95), Charles Jones (1996-97 & 1997-98), Julian Boyd (2011-12) and Jamal Olasewere (2012-13) as LIU Brooklyn student-athletes voted NEC Player of the Year.
Braxton’s rookie season is one that will stand the test of time in the NEC. He wrapped the regular season with seven NEC Rookie of the Week honors – the fifth-most in the league’s 36-year history – and was the lone freshman to earn All-NEC honors, collecting second team accolades. Braxton does it all for the Red Flash, and at 6’4” has proved to be a matchup nightmare for opposing guards with his versatile inside-outside game and uncanny ability to both lead and finish on the break. The Glassboro, NJ product is the nation’s top-ranked freshman rebounder with 8.8 per game heading into the postseason, and his eight double-doubles is tied with UCLA’s Lonzo Ball for fourth most among DI freshmen. Braxton paces SFU with 13.3 ppg and is the NEC’s third-leading rebounder. He’s also seventh in the conference in field goal accuracy (.527) and steals (1.5), ninth in free throw percentage (.778) and tenth in assists (3.0). To top things off, Braxton is shooting 41.9 percent from outside the arc. He is the third Saint Francis U player to claim NEC Rookie of the Year honors, joining Darshan Luckey (2002-03) and current teammate Malik Harmon (2013-14).
Nebo’s ability to protect the rim and alter shots with his length and impeccable timing is one of the prime reasons Saint Francis U exceeded expectations after being picked ninth in the NEC preseason poll. An elite weak side defender, Nebo leads the NEC in blocked shots by a wide margin and ranks 22nd nationally with 2.4 per game. He’s been even better in conference play where he’s averaged 3.0 bpg, including an NEC single game season-high seven blocks against Robert Morris on January 12. Nebo anchored a Red Flash defense that ranked second in the NEC in field goal percentage defense (.415) in league outings. With 69 blocks, he is just two shy of setting a single season school record, and his 128 career rejections leave him nine behind Melvin Scott (137 from 1996-01) for SFU’s career mark. Nebo is the Red Flash’s first-ever NEC Defensive Player of the Year honoree. He was also voted to the All-NEC third team after concluding the regular season with 12.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 57.2 percent shooting from the floor and seven double-doubles.
Fleming’s emergence as a go-to scorer and crunch time player for LIU Brooklyn did not go unnoticed by NEC head coaches. After spending much of his first three years as a backup point guard and spot starter, Fleming flourished with his move off the ball this season. He boosted his scoring average from 4.9 ppg as a junior 14.5 ppg this season, the second biggest bump in the league. Fleming is currently seventh in the NEC in scoring, tenth in free throw percentage (.771) and 15th in steals (1.4). A three-time NEC Player of the Week, Fleming has drained a team-high 48 shots from three-point territory. He scored the last seven points and hit the game-winning jumper in LIU’s 74-73 win over St. John’s on December 11, and made key plays down the stretch in late season wins over Bryant, FDU, Sacred Heart, Mount St. Mary’s and Wagner. Fleming, who hails from North Brunswick, NJ, is the first Blackbirds to take home Most Improved Player honors. He was also named to the All-NEC third team.
In his four years at the helm of the Mount St. Mary’s program, Christian has transformed the Mountaineer into a year-in and year-out NEC title contender. His team’s trademark “Mount Mayhem” style of play has proved to be a rallying point both on and off the court, and has thrilled the Mount faithful who continue to pack Knott Arena night in and night out. After being picked fourth in the NEC preseason poll, Christian guided Mount St. Mary’s to a 10-1 start in conference play and the Mountaineers glided to a 14-4 finish and the program’s second NEC regular season crown. The 14 league wins represented the second-most in school history behind a 16-win campaign back in 1995-96. Christian presides over the NEC’s top-ranked scoring defense in league play at just 63.8 ppg, while also ranking first in field goal accuracy at 46.8 percent against conference rivals. Christian, a former Mount St. Mary’s player under legendary Jim Phelan, led the Mountaineers to the NEC final in his first season as head coach back in 2012-13 and went one better the following year as the Mount won its fourth NEC title. The NEC Coach of the Year award is named in Phelan’s honor and now Christian joins his former mentor as an award recipient. Phelan himself was honored by his peers as NEC Coach of the Year in 1992-93 and 1995-96.
Frink, the NEC Player of the Year, was joined on the All-NEC first team by Wagner senior guard Michael Carey (Nassau, Bahamas/Lamar Consolidated (San Jacinto CC)) and three sophomore guards: Mount St. Mary’s Elijah Long (Mississauga, Ontario/John Carroll (MD)), Sacred Heart’s Quincy McKnight (Bridgeport, CT/St. Joseph’s (Phelps)) and Bryant’s Nisre Zouzoua (Brockton, MA/Boston Trinity).
Long morphed from productive rookie in 2015-16 to a full-fledged star for the Mount this season. Noted for his creative playmaking, lethal step-back jumper and rebounding prowess for a 6-footer, he’s one of the league’s top stat stuffers. Long not only paces the NEC with 4.5 apg, he also ranks among league leaders in three-point percentage (.409, fourth), scoring (14.8, seventh), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.34, seventh), steals (1.5, seventh), free throw percentage (.755, 12th) and rebounds (5.3, 14th).
Nearly impossible to contain one-on-one and with an uncanny ability to finish in traffic, McKnight took his game to the next level for the Pioneers following an All-Rookie campaign a year ago. The elite scorer has posted 14 games of 20+ points this season and established an NEC single-game season-high with his 44-point performance against Bryant on January 14. McKnight’s 18.9 ppg ranks second in the NEC, and he heads into the postseason first in the league in made free throws (165), fourth in steals (1.6) and eighth in free throw percentage (.778). A three-time NEC Player of the Week, McKnight also contributes 4.8 rpg and 3.0 apg.
Zouzoua came on strong late in his All-Rookie campaign a year ago, so his star-making turn this season was not at all unexpected. A pure scorer with unlimited range, Zouzoua leads the NEC with 20.2 ppg, including a conference-best 16 games with 20+ points. He also paces the circuit in made three-pointers (3.0/game) and is shooting 77.0 percent from the line. Zouzoua, who has already cracked the 1,000-point plateau in just two years, provided his most memorable moment of the season back on January 28 when he drained a game-winning pullup from 20 feet to beat FDU in OT.
Carey’s unique blend of strength, speed, skill and hoops acumen has made him into one of the most feared players on the circuit in his two years at Wagner. An All-NEC second teamer a season ago, Carey has been a consistent double-double machine for the Seahawks, compiling 10 on the year to boost his career total to 25. He is one of 18 players in the nation this season to finish with 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game, recording 21 points and 22 boards against FDU on January 5. Carey averages 12.6 ppg and is the NEC’s top-ranked rebounder with 9.0 per contest.
Joining Braxton on the All-NEC second team were FDU junior guard Darian Anderson (Washington, D.C./St. John’s College), Wagner junior guard Corey Henson (Upper Marlboro, MD/DeMatha Catholic), Mount St. Mary’s junior guard Junior Robinson (Mebane, NC/Eastern Alamance) and Robert Morris sophomore guard Isaiah Still (Rahway, NJ/Union Catholic).
Anderson is the straw that stirs the drink for the Knights. A fearless competitor and clutch shooter with deep range, the two-time NEC second team all-star paces the Knights with 16.9 ppg, a figure that ranks him fourth in the conference. The junior also leads the NEC with 2.0 spg, ranks third in free throw shooting (.818) and assist/TO ratio (1.5), and eighth in assists (3.2), three-point accuracy (.371) and made three-pointers (2.0/game). Anderson leads all active NEC players with 1,307 career points.
Henson’s reputation as one of the league’s top marksmen is well deserved. The junior and two-time All-NEC second teamer has racked up 171 three-pointers in his three years on Grymes Hill, including a team-high 56 during the 2016-17 regular season. His 2.1 triples per game ties him for sixth in the league, and his 14.3 ppg scoring average is the eighth-best mark in the conference. Henson is also an able playmaker, averaging 2.9 apg for the Seahawks. He has amassed 1,111 career points, the third-highest total among current NEC competitors.
The heart-and-soul of the top-seeded Mountaineers, Robinson made it back-to-back second team All-NEC honors. In forming a terrific one-two punch with Elijah Long, the cat-quick junior contributed 13.4 ppg, 2.9 apg and hit a team-high 61 three-pointers over the course of the regular season. He leads the NEC in free throw percentage (.877), and ranks fifth in three-point accuracy (.399). Robinson’s 1,077 points ranks him fourth in the NEC among active players.
Still’s versatility was on full display this year for a Colonial team peaking at the right time. A difficult backcourt matchup due to his length, athleticism and shooting touch from downtown, he averaged 19.6 points over his last eight games and closed out the regular season ranked fifth in the NEC with 15.5 ppg. The silky smooth Still is eighth in the league with 2.0 trifectas per game and also contributes 4.4 rpg.
The All-NEC third team was comprised of Fleming, Nebo, Saint Francis U junior guard Isaiah Blackmon (Charlotte, NC/West Charlotte), Fairleigh Dickinson junior guard Stephan Jiggetts (Forestville, MD/Bishop McNamara) and Sacred Heart junior forward Joseph Lopez (Miami, FL/South Miami Senior (Broward College)).
Blackmon’s recovery from an ACL tear that cut short a promising freshman season was one of the key factors in Saint Francis U’s 11-win NEC campaign. The league’s most efficient long-range shooter, he converted 50.8 percent of his three-point attempts against conference rivals and 48.5 percent for the year. By no means just an outside shooter, Blackmon ranks second on a balanced Red Flash lineup with 13.0 ppg and also snares 4.1 rpg.
Jiggetts upped his profile and elevated his game this season, as the multifaceted combo guard provided steady contributions all year for the Knights. His 4.2 apg is the second-best mark in the conference and his 13.2 ppg ranks him 12th in the league. Terrific from the line, Jiggetts converted at an 81.5 percent rate from the stripe on the year, and an ever better 87.4 percent in NEC play, the best mark on the loop. He also posted the NEC’s first triple-double since 2010 with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against Lipscomb on Novemer 19.
A dominating interior presence who cleans up on the offensive glass, Lopez was just what the doctor ordered for the Pioneers. Possessing a refined post game, the junior averaged 13.0 ppg on 55.9 percent shooting from the field over the course of the season. He ranks third in the NEC in double-doubles (11), fourth in rebounding (8.6) and sixth in field goal accuracy.
The next generation of NEC stars will come from the five-member NEC All-Rookie squad. Joining NEC Rookie of the Year Keith Braxton were a quartet of guards: LIU Brooklyn’s Jashaun Agosto (Seattle, WA/Garfield), St. Francis Brooklyn’s Rasheem Dunn (Brooklyn, NY/Thomas Jefferson), Bryant’s Adam Grant (Franklin, VA/Norfolk Collegiate School) and the Mount’s Miles Wilson (Baltimore, MD/Mount St. Joseph).
Grant joined Zouzoua to form one of the NEC’s youngest and most feared backcourts. Grant leads all NEC freshmen with 13.6 ppg and he ranks ninth overall in scoring. He also paces all first-year players with 57 three-pointers and ranks second in the league in minutes played at 35.9 per game. Grant, whose nine three-pointer game against Sacred Heart on January 14 set an NEC freshman record, was named NEC Rookie of the Week on two occasions.
Wilson possesses all the attributes to become one of the NEC’s next level stars over the next three years. At 6’5”, he poses problems for defenders with his ability to both attack the rim and drain shots from distance. He ranks third on the Mount with 11.4 ppg on 45.8 percent shooting from the floor.
Dunn burst onto the NEC scene this season, providing instant offense for the Terriers. Always in attack mode, the Brooklyn native showed off an elite ability to finish on the break as well as a polished mid-range game. He wrapped his season as St. Francis Brooklyn’s leading scorer and ranks second among NEC freshmen with 13.1 ppg. The three-time NEC Rookie of the Week also topped the Terriers with 5.1 rpg.
Agosto started from day one at the point for LIU Brooklyn, and by the end of the regular season looked every bit the crafty floor general. With blinding quickness and elite athleticism, Agosto excelled both in transition and in a drive-and-dish capacity, and developed a reliable floater en-route to averaging 11.0 ppg and a team-high 3.0 apg.
About The Northeast Conference
Now in its 36th year, the Northeast Conference is an NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association consisting of 10 institutions of higher learning located throughout six states. Media coverage of the NEC extends to four of the largest markets in the United States – New York (#1), Pittsburgh (#23), Baltimore (#27), and Hartford/New Haven (#30). Founded in 1981 as the basketball-only ECAC Metro Conference, the NEC has grown to sponsor 22 championship sports for men and women and now enjoys automatic access to 14 different NCAA Championships. NEC member institutions include Bryant, Central Connecticut, Fairleigh Dickinson, LIU Brooklyn, Mount St. Mary’s, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, St. Francis Brooklyn, Saint Francis U and Wagner. For more information on the NEC, visit the league’s official website (www.northeastconference.org) and digital network (www.necfrontrow.com), or follow the league on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, all @NECsports.