ROCK HILL, S.C. — The 13th-ranked Railsplitters were rewarded handsomely for capturing the program’s third South Atlantic Conference regular-season title in four seasons. Lincoln Memorial University’s Vincent Bailey was named SAC Player of the Year, headlining a collection of four student-athletes to earn the nod for the All-SAC Team, while head coach Josh Schertz was named SAC Coach of the Year, the league office announced on Wednesday.
The Railsplitters (24-2, 20-2 SAC) earned the top billing for the Food Lion SAC Championship for the second-consecutive season and the third time in four tries after racing away with the regular-season league title in 2013-14, finishing with a four-game cushion over runner-up Carson-Newman. For the third straight season the Railsplitters placed four on the All-SAC Team.
In addition to Bailey being named Player of the Year and being named first team All-SAC, Chance Jones and Lorenza Ross were named to the All-SAC second team and Luquon Choice received all-freshman distinctions.
Bailey is wrapping up a career that places him among the all-time greats in the history of the Lincoln Memorial University men’s basketball program. He finished second in the league in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 21.6 points and 9.8 boards per game. No player has averaged more points per game during the Schertz era than Bailey’s 21.6. The Jennings, Fla., native also ranked first in the league in total field goals (228), fourth in field-goal percentage (61.6), first in total rebounds (256) and first in points per 40 minutes (29.9). Bailey rounded out his stat ledger with 20 blocks and 19 steals while shooting 72.6 percent from the charity stripe.
Bailey and fellow senior Chance Jones established themselves as the two-winningest players in the history of the men’s basketball program while compiling the most wins in a four-year stretch in SAC history. That duo has accumulated 102 wins with only 17 losses since joining the Railsplitters for the 2010-11 season, unseating Wingate who logged 100 wins from 1998-2002.
Along with sharing that accomplishment, Jones joined Bailey on the All-SAC Team with a selection to the second team. The Knoxville native finished with career-high numbers during the 2013-14 campaign, pitching in 15.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Jones compiled those figures while standing as one of the most efficient all-around shooters in the South Atlantic Conference, ranking 11th in field-goal percentage at 51.5 percent, fourth in three-point field-goal percentage with a 46.1 percent mark and 10th in free-throw percentage with a 76.3 percent clip. His 46.1 percent effort from deep currently ranks second in LMU’s single-season history book.
Ross collected his second All-SAC Second Team distinction. The Savannah, Ga., native keyed the offense from the point position while contributing 10.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, dishing out a total of 113 assists which ranked second in the conference. His 113 assists also surpassed Brandon Armstrong — who compiled 110 dimes during the 2011-12 season — for the most individual assists in the Josh Schertz era. Ross shot the rock at a 45.4 percent mark while canning 11 three-pointers during the course of the season.
Choice becomes the fourth straight Railsplitter to be named to the All-Freshman team. He contributed 9.0 points and 2.7 rebounds in only 20.1 minutes per game. The Laurens, S.C., native did most of his damage from behind the three-point arc where he ranked eighth in the SAC with a 40 percent mark. 52 of Choice’s 77 field goals were three-pointers, which is the 15th-most trifectas in the league this season.
Since arriving in Harrogate for the 2008-09 season, Schertz has ushered in one of the most historic turnarounds in Division II and NCAA history. Lincoln Memorial finished 8-20 the season before Schertz’s arrival, but he has flipped the Railsplitters from conference punch line to conference standard since assuming command of the reins. In his six years with the Railsplitters, Schertz has compiled a 136-40 record with four SAC titles and four NCAA Tournament appearances. The Railsplitters have also blown away the previous conference record for most consecutive weeks ranked in the NABC/Division II national poll, racking up a current streak of 57-consecutive weeks ranked. That mark is the ninth-longest in the 54-year history of the poll.
The top-seeded Railsplitters are set to begin the quest towards Evansville, Indiana - site of the 2014 NCAA Division II Elite Eight - on Wednesday, March 5, hosting eight-seeded Wingate for the quarterfinals of the Food Lion SAC Championship. Lincoln Memorials entertains the Bulldogs at 8 p.m. in Tex Turner Arena with the winner advancing to the semifinal round in Greenville, South Carolina, where either No.4 Lenoir-Rhyne or No.5 Newberry awaits.
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2013-14 South Atlantic Conference Men’s Basketball Awards
Player of the Year: Vincent Bailey, Lincoln Memorial
Freshman of the Year: Isiah Cureton, Wingate
Coach of the Year: Josh Schertz, Lincoln Memorial
All-SAC First Team
Vincent Bailey, Lincoln Memorial
Antoine Davis, Carson-Newman
Chandler Hash, Anderson
Dondray Walker, Newberry
Ishmael Sanders, Carson-Newman
Jarrett Stokes, Queens
All-SAC Second Team
Lorenza Ross, Lincoln Memorial
R.J. McClure, Lenoir-Rhyne
Deion Turman, Wingate
Ryan Daye, Wingate
C.J. Gleaton, Anderson
Chance Jones, Lincoln Memorial
All-SAC Honorable Mention
Julian Nelson, Coker
Darius Moose, Brevard
Tyrece Little, Catawba
Demarkus Smith, Newberry
Josh Clyburn, Queens
Kijuan Arrington, Catawba
Isiah Cureton, Wingate
Luquon Choice, Lincoln Memorial
Trevon Shaw, Brevard
Josh Dominguez, Wingate
Gerald Evans, Newberry