3 Flames collect hardware
Odiase named Horizon Defensive Player of the Year
By Mike Pankow
March 2, 2017
The UIC junior center cashed in on that respect by taking home the Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year when the conference released its slate of postseason awards on Wednesday morning.
Two of Odiase’s young teammates also earned accolades as guards Tarkus Ferguson and Dominique Matthews were named to the Horizon League All-Freshman Team.
Odiase, who became the first player in UIC history to win the honor, led the Horizon League and ranks sixth in the nation with 2.9 blocks per game. He recorded at least five blocks in eight games. His 90 blocks to date this season ranks as the third-highest single-season total in Flames history behind Scott VanderMeer's 111 in 2006-07 and Odiase's 97 last season.
Odiase joins Armond Williams (2003-04, 2004-05) and VanderMeer (2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09) as the only Flames to land on the All-Defensive Team at least twice in their careers.
In addition, Odiase led the Flames* with 11.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting 58.8 percent from the field.
(*-Not counting Dikembe Dixson, who appeared in just 10 games before suffering a season-ending injury)
Ferguson, who was a top contender for Horizon Freshman of the Year, averaged 11.1 points and a league-best 4.6 assists. He shot 40.5 percent from the field, 35 percent on 3-pointers and a team-leading 79.8 percent on free throws.
Matthews, who played in only nine games last season because of a broken thumb, emerged as one of UIC’s top scoring threats. He averaged 10.0 points and led the Flames with 44 3-point baskets.
In conference play, Matthews was even better, averaging 12.4 points. He topped 20 points four times this season, including a career-high 28 against Youngstown State on Feb. 9.
This was the fourth time in UIC history that multiple players were named to an All-Newcomer team in the same season, but the first since 2005 when Othyus Jeffers and Josh Mayo were honored.
As for the other big winners in the Horizon League, Valparaiso’s steady senior forward Alec Peters was named the conference’s Player of the Year. Helping the Crusaders to a 24-7 overall record and a 14-4 mark in league play, Peters led the conference with 23.0 points per game and 10.1 rebounds per contest in helping Valpo to a share of the league’s regular-season crown.
Peters was joined on the First-Team All-Horizon by Northern Kentucky sophomore center Drew McDonald, Oakland junior forward Jalen Hayes, Wright State junior guard Mark Alstork and Youngstown State junior guard Cameron Morse.
No Flames were voted onto the Second Team All-Horizon, which consisted of Cleveland State sophomore guard Rob Edwards, Detroit Mercy junior forward Jaleel Hogan, Green Bay senior guard Charles Cooper, Oakland junior forward Martez Walker and Valparaiso senior guard Shane Hammink.
Detroit guard Corey Allen was named the Horizon’s Freshman of the Year as he led all first-year players with 14.3 points per game and was second in the entire league in 3-point percent at 45.2 percent. Joining Ferguson, Matthews and Allen on the All-Freshmen team were Northern Kentucky forward Carson Williams and Oakland forward Isaiah Brock. UIC’s Marcus Ottey was also strongly considered, but fell short, despite averaging 10.6 points per contest.
Northern Kentucky coach John Brannen, who led the Norse to a 21-10 mark overall and 12-6 in the conference, was named the Horizon League Coach of the Year. The Norse finished tied for third with Green Bay after they finished eighth a year ago.
Green Bay senior guard Warren Jones was named the Horizon League Sixth Man of the Year by conference coaches. He could’ve won the honor based solely on his performances against UIC, in which he averaged 20.0 points in two close victories over the Flames. He averaged 10.2 points per game overall and shot 38 percent on 3-pointers.
Joining Odiase on the Horizon League All-Defensive Team (as voted on by coaches) were Green Bay senior forward Kenneth Lowe, Green Bay junior guard Khalil Small, Oakland’s Brock and Valparaiso junior guard Tevonn Walker.
The following is a complete list with Horizon League honorees, along with Whoosh!’s official vote:
Only head coaches can vote for this team
Only head coaches can vote
Only head coaches can vote