Van Slyke & Johnson earn postseason All-Sun Belt honors

NEW ORLEANS ( – Georgia State head coach Ron Hunter and guard R.J. Hunter, the father-son duo and leaders of Georgia State's successful first year in Sun Belt Conference men's basketball play, headlined the 2014 All-Sun Belt Conference Men's Basketball teams and individual award winners released on Tuesday. Sophomore R.J. Hunter earned distinction as the 2014 Sun Belt Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Year while his father, Ron Hunter, was named the Coach of the Year.

The teams were released on Tuesday following a vote by the league head coaches and a selected media panel.

R.J. Hunter finished the regular-season in the top five in the league in scoring, free throw percentage, steals, 3-point field goal percentage, 3-pointers made and minutes. He is also among the Top 50 in the NCAA in 3-pointers made, free throw percentage, points per game and 3-point field goal percentage. He averaged 18.8 points per game, with 55 steals (1.77/game) and knocked down 90 3-point field goals during the regular-season. He maintained a 45.8 field goal percentage, 87.9 free throw percentage and shot 40.5 percent from behind the arc this year.

Third-year head coach Ron Hunter led Georgia State to a 24-7 overall record which included a 17-1 mark in Sun Belt Conference play and a 13-0 record at home. The Panthers clinched the No. 1 seed in the 2014 Sun Belt Conference Men's Basketball Championship on March 1 and head into the tournament riding a seven-game winning streak.

Joining R.J. Hunter on the First Team All-Conference list are teammate Ryan Harrow, UL Lafayette's Shawn Long and Elfrid Payton and UT Arlington's Reger Dowell. Payton, the Ragin' Cajuns junior guard, earned the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year honor. Payton is the league leader in steals while also leading in assists. He ranks second in the conference in minutes played and third in the conference in scoring.

Harrow joined Hunter on the First Team All-Sun Belt Conference list as the guard is No. 1 in the league and ranks 33rd nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.72) and is fifth in the league in scoring (17.1 ppg).

Long was a First Team All-Conference honoree after leading the conference in rebounds (291) and blocked shots (78).

Payton is making his second-consecutive First Team All-Conference appearance of his career. He scored in double figures in 27 of 29 games played during the regular-season and had 15 games with 20 points or more to go with three games of 30 or more.

UT Arlington's Reger Dowell, the leading scorer in the Sun Belt Conference at 20.6 points per game, rounded out the First Team All-Conference list. The senior guard led the Sun Belt Conference in 3-pointers per game (3.3) and scored in double figures in 25 of 26 games played.

Rounding out the individual honorees was WKU's Chris Harrison-Docks who was named the 2014 Freshman of the Year. Despite only playing half of the season due to NCAA transfer requirements, the redshirt freshman was third on the team with 10 double-figure scoring games and ranked 14th in the conference in assists. He averaged 9.7 points and 2.2 assists per game, and shot 84.0 percent from free throw range (42-for-50).

The 2014 Sun Belt Conference Men's Basketball Championship begins on Thursday, March 13 at 6 p.m. with the tip-off of first round games taking place at the Lakefront Arena. The championship game will tip at Noon (C.T.) on Selection Sunday and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

First Team All-Sun Belt Conference
Ryan Harrow (Georgia State, R-Jr., Guard)
R.J. Hunter (Georgia State, So., Guard)
Shawn Long (UL Lafayette, So., Forward)
Elfrid Payton (UL Lafayette, Jr., Guard)
Reger Dowell (UT Arlington, Sr., Guard)

Second Team All-Sun Belt Conference
Will Neighbour (UALR, Sr., Forward)
Kirk Van Slyke (Arkansas State, Sr., Forward)
Manny Atkins (Georgia State, Sr., Forward)
Augustine Rubit (South Alabama, Sr., Forward)
T.J. Price (WKU, Jr., Guard)

Third Team All-Sun Belt Conference
Melvin Johnson III (Arkansas State, Sr., Guard)
Devonta White (Georgia State, Sr., Guard)
Tylor Ongwae (UL Monroe, Jr., Forward)
Brandon Edwards (UT Arlington, Sr., Forward)
George Fant (WKU, Jr., Forward)

Player of the Year
R.J. Hunter (Georgia State, So., Guard)

Defensive Player of the Year
Elfrid Payton (UL Lafayette, Jr., Guard)

Freshman of the Year
Chris Harrison-Docks (WKU, R-Fr., Guard)

Coach of the Year
Ron Hunter (Georgia State, 3rd Season)