Basketball

Ryan Taylor Named To C-USA All-Defensive Team

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IRVING, Texas – Ryan Taylor of Marshall picked up another award with the release on Tuesday of the 2017 Conference USA Men’s Basketball Specialty Awards. Taylor, a senior from Indianapolis, Ind., was named to the All-C-USA Defensive team. Other members of the All-Defensive team include William Lee of UAB, the league’s Defensive player of the Year and the only repeat selection on the All-Defensive Team.

Others on the defensive team include Reggie Upshaw Jr. of Middle Tennessee and Denzell Taylor of Old Dominion. Louisiana Tech junior Jacobi Boykins, an all-conference third team selection who led the team in steals, rounds out the squad.

In his career, Taylor has 116 blocks (No. 7), and 107 steals (tied for No. 20 with AW Hamilton, the coach at Hargrave Military Academy, where Taylor prepped). He also has 961 rebounds, No. 4 at Marshall and No. 7 in C-USA, tied with Robert Dozier of MemphisThis year, Taylor leads Marshall with 244 rebounds (8.7/game), with 6.6 of those rebounds on the defensive end. He also leads MU with 47 blocks (1.7/game) and is second with 33 steals (1.1/game).

All-Conference USA first-team selection JaCorey Williams of Middle Tennessee was named the C-USA Newcomer of the Year, while Louisiana Tech guard DaQuan Bracey earned Freshman of the Year honors. Old Dominion sophomore Zoran Talley is the Sixth Player of the Year. All awards were voted on by the conference’s head coaches and select media.

Williams adds C-USA Newcomer of the Year to his awards as he has already been named to the All-Conference USA first team. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, he made an immediate impact in his first season on the floor for the regular-season champion Blue Raiders after transferring from Arkansas. Williams is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 17.2 points per game, and rebounder (7.6 per game). He scored a career-high 31 points against Toledo and has recorded 11 double-doubles on the season to date.

Bracey was named the C-USA Freshman of the Year after winning three weekly honors this season. He ranks sixth nationally with a 3.56 assist-to-turnover ratio and is the second-best freshman performer in that category over the past 10 years (only Iowa State’s Monte Morris was better). With 185 assists, Bracey shattered the school’s single-season freshman record previously held by former C-USA Player of the Year Kenneth “Speedy” Smith.

A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Bracey’s 109 helpers against C-USA foes also set the league’s freshman record, and he is four assists away from breaking Derrick Rose’s rookie conference mark. He is joined on the All-Freshman squad by teammate Jalen Harris, Middle Tennessee point guard Tyrik Dixon, and a pair of other three-time C-USA Freshman of the Week selections in A.J. Lawson of North Texas and UTSA guard Byron Frohnen.

Lee was named the C-USA Defensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row as he enters the conference tournament with 75 blocks and leads the league and ranks 20th in the NCAA with 2.4 per game. Lee also leads UAB in scoring (13.0 p.p.g.) and rebounding (6.6 r.p.g.). He tallied five games of at least 10 boards, including a career-high 17 in a Blazer victory over Marshall.  A 2017 All-Conference USA second-team selection, Lee is currently second all-time at UAB with 219 career blocks and is on track to become the school’s all-time leader. In addition, Lee is just five blocks shy of moving into 10th place all-time in Conference USA history.

Talley came off the bench for Old Dominion in 19 of 25 contests played this season, ranking second on the team in scoring with 11.5 points per game. The sophomore forward from Merrillville, Indiana, is shooting 44.9 percent (123-274) on the season and has also added 84 rebounds, 45 assists, 10 steals and four blocks.

The 2017 Conference USA Men’s Basketball Championship presented by MetroPCS tips off on Wednesday, March 8, at the Legacy Arena at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in Birmingham, Alabama. Saturday’s title game begins at 8:30 p.m. EST/7:30 p.m. CST and will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network. Tickets are available through TicketMaster or by visiting the Legacy Arena box office.

2016-17 CONFERENCE USA ALL-FRESHMAN Team
DaQuan Bracey, Louisiana Tech, G, 5-10, 170, Baltimore, Maryland
Jalen Harris, Louisiana Tech, G, 6-4, 190, Duncanville, Texas
Tyrik Dixon, Middle Tennessee, G, 6-1, 183, Bentonville, Arkansas
A.J. Lawson, North Texas, G, 6-5, 190, Bryan, Texas
Byron Frohnen, UTSA, G, 6-5, 205, Las Vegas, Nevada

2016-17 CONFERENCE USA FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
DaQuan Bracey, Louisiana Tech, G, 5-10, 170, Baltimore, Maryland

2016-17 CONFERENCE USA ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM (*repeat selection)

Ryan Taylor, Marshall, Sr., F, 6-5, 249, Indianapolis, Indiana

Reggie Upshaw Jr., Middle Tennessee, Sr., F, 6-8, 228, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Denzell Taylor, Old Dominion, F, 6-7, 220, Brampton, Ontario
*William Lee, UAB, Jr., F, 6-9, 210, Plantersville, Alabama
Jacobi Boykins, Louisiana Tech, Jr., G, 6-6, 175, St. Petersburg, Florida

2016-17 CONFERENCE USA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
William Lee, UAB, Jr., F, 6-9, 210, Plantersville, Alabama

About Woody Woodrum

Senior Editor and columnist/writer for Herd Insider since 2003, with Kindred Communications on radio for Marshall football/men's basketball pregame and postgame shows since 1996 and with First Sentry Bank Sportsline (Also Scott on Sports, Sideline Sports and Herd Insider Sportsline) since 1997. Married to Liz (12-22-1990) and one son, Tre' (11-7-1997). National Sportswriters & Sportscasters West Virginia Broadcaster of the Year winner for radio, 2000; won W.Va. Broadcasters Best Talk Show in 2013 with co-host Paul Swann and W.Va. Broadcasters Best Play-by-Play in 2015 with Jason Toy (Huntington at South Charleston, state AAA semifinals). Member of (College) Football Writers Association of America, (College) Basketball Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Color commentator for Marshall football (1999-2000), for Marshall basketball (2004-2016) and Marshall baseball (2004-2016). Color for high school football at Spring Valley (1999-2008), Cabell Midland (2009-2012) and Huntington (W.Va.) High School (2013-2016).

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