Niagara Gazette — Niagara men's basketball players Juan'ya Green and Antoine Mason and women's basketball player Lauren Gatto have been selected to the all-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference teams revealed Monday.
The three players are now finalists for the MAAC Player of the Year awards to be announced at Thursday's awards banquet in Springfield, Mass., site of the MAAC championships.
If Green or Mason win the award, they would become the first sophomore honored as MAAC Player of the Year since LaSalle's Lionel Simmons began his run of three-straight awards in 1988. The last non-senior to win the award was Manhattan's Luis Flores in 2003.
Niagara has had three players win Player of the Year before: Alvin Young (1999), Demond Stewart (2001), and Juan Mendez (2005).
Green, Iona senior Lamont Jones and Canisius junior Billy Baron are considered the favorites to win this year's award.
The other first-team all-MAAC selections were Loyola teammates Erik Etherly (the preseason player of the year) and Dylan Cormier.
Green, last year's MAAC Rookie of the Year, averaged 17.7 points, a league-high 5.2 assists and 2.0 steals in 18 conference games for the regular season champion Purple Eagles. He hit game-winning shots in wins over Iona, Marist and Manhattan and assisted on the winning shot at Canisius.
"He makes his team win," Niagara coach Joe Mihalich said. "If he has to make a shot, he does. If he has to make a pass, he does. He put his team in first place."
Jones is the MAAC's leading scorer at 22.3 points per game. He averaged 3.1 assists in league play. Baron averaged 16.1 points and 4.9 assists in MAAC games. Canisius and Iona tied for fourth in the conference standings.
Mason was the MAAC's third-leading scorer at 18 points per game, but his Player of the Year candidacy is hurt by the fact that he missed four games with an ankle injury, along with the widely-held perception that Green is Niagara's most valuable player.