Gamble nabs second straight SBC Player of the Year Award
Arkansas State University's official logo (Source: www.astate.edu)
JONESBORO, AR (ASU) – Arkansas State redshirt junior guard Aundrea Gamble was named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and was named to the league's First-Team All-Conference squad, while Khadija Brown-Haywood and Jasmine Hunt were recognized as Third Team All-Conference selections the league announced Tuesday afternoon.
Gamble became just the sixth player in Sun Belt Conference history to be named the conference's Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons and the first since Florida International's Jerica Coley achieved the feat during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. She is the first player in school history to win the award multiple times and is the second player in Arkansas State's rich women's basketball history to earn back-to-back First Team All-Conference selections.
The McKinney, Texas native helped Arkansas State tie the school record for regular season wins with a 21-9 overall record and a 16-4 mark in Sun Belt Conference play. The Red Wolves also finished league play with a perfect 10-0 record at home and have won 16 straight home conference games dating back to the 2013-14 season. The Red Wolves are currently projected to receive an “at-large” bid by several publications' latest bracketology predictions heading into this week's Sun Belt Conference Championship Tournament.
Gamble finished the regular season ranked first in the conference in points per game (19.1) and minutes per game (38.0). She ranked second with 5.1 assists per outing and spent much of the year as the league's leader in the stat category. Nationally, she is ranked 41st in the nation in points per game and is 35th in assists per game. She is also ranked ninth among all active NCAA Division I women's basketball players with a career 19.0 points per game average. The redshirt junior was named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week three times this past year and was ranked as the No. 9 combination guard in the country by BennettRank.com and is a finalist to be an All-American this season.
After moving into a starting role for the first time in her career, Hunt quickly became one of the most reliable and consistent post players in the league. The senior leads the Red Wolves with 6.1 rebounds per game and is third on the A-State roster with an 11.0 points per game average. In conference play, she has averaged nearly two points more per game than her regular season average and has grabbed almost two full rebounds more in league contests. She has also been one of the Red Wolves' most accurate shooters and has knocked down over 50 percent of her shots on the year, one of just five players in the conference to accomplish that feat.
The Houston, Texas native has three double-doubles to her credit this season, each of which have come during conference play where she ranks third in the league in offensive rebounding and field goal percentage. She enjoyed one of the best games of her career in A-State's regular season finale when she went a perfect 8-for-8 from the field and perfect 5-of-5 from the free throw line. Her perfect afternoon from the field tied a Convocation Center record for highest field goal percentage in a game, while her 13 combined made shots without a miss were the most in school history. She was most recently named the Sun Belt Conference's Player of the Week, the first of her career, for her accomplishment.
No player on the Arkansas State roster endured more change than Brown-Haywood from last season to this one. Not only did the junior move into a starting role for the first time in her career she was also asked to change positions and both moves made her into one of the league's top forwards.
The Centralia, Ill., native ranks second on A-State's roster in both points and rebounds per game in both league and regular season play. She ranks among the top-17 players in the Sun Belt Conference in six statistical categories, including blocks where she is the only Red Wolves' player to be ranked among the league's best in the category. Her efforts on the defensive side have seen her lead A-State in steals in eight games this year, while also leading the team in blocks in 11 games. She also set or tied a career-high in 12 different games throughout the year and has narrowly missed out on recording her first career double-double twice this year, finishing with a career-high nine rebounds in each contest.
Arkansas State will open play in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Wednesday, March 11 at 5 p.m. against No 7 Appalachian State in New Orleans, La., at Lakefront Arena. The game can be heard locally on 95.3FM The Ticket and online at AStateRedWolves.com.
2015 Sun Belt All-Conference Teams First Team All-Sun Belt Conference Taylor Gault (UALR, Senior, Guard) Maryah Sydnor (Appalachian State, Senior, Forward) Aundrea Gamble (Arkansas State, RS-Junior, Guard) Ronita Garrett (Troy, Senior, Forward) Ashley Beverly-Kelley (Troy, Junior, Guard)
Second Team All-Sun Belt Conference Ka'Nesheia Cobbins (UALR, Senior, Guard) Alexius Dawn (UALR, Junior, Guard) Sharnice Brooks (UL Monroe, Senior, Center) Rebekah Van Dijk (UT Arlington, Freshman, Center) Erin Peoples (Texas State, Junior, Guard)
Third Team All-Sun Belt Conference Khadija Brown-Haywood (Arkansas State, Junior, Forward) Jasmine Hunt (Arkansas State, Senior, Forward) Keke Veal (UL Lafayette, Junior, Guard) Kia Wilridge (UL Lafayette, Junior, Guard) Breanna Hall (South Alabama, Senior, Guard)
2015 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Aundrea Gamble, Arkansas State
2015 Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year Ka'Nesheia Cobbins, UALR
2015 Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year Rebekah Van Dijk, UT Arlington
2015 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year Joe Foley, UALR