EDINBURG - Texas A&M-Corpus Christi was the big winner in the Independent Men's Basketball Awards announced on Monday, taking the Player of the Year, Coach of the Year awards and placing three players on the All-Independent teams. TAMUCC forward Michael Hicks was named Player of the Year, while Head Coach Ronnie Arrow was selected as the Coach of the Year. UT-Pan American's John Braxton was named Defensive Player of the Year.
Hicks, who averaged 22.2 points and 9.2 rebounds, ran away with the voting for Player-of-the-Year, receiving nine of the 12 first-place votes. Hicks had 12 double-doubles, including four games with 30 or more points scored. If TAMUCC were not a provisional NCAA Division I team, he would rank in the top 10 in scoring in the nation.
Centenary's Ronnie McCollum was second in the voting, UTPA's Brian Merriweather was third and Todd Cetnar of Albany was fourth. All four players were also named First Team All-Independent. McCollum is currently third in the nation in scoring with 23.8 points per game. Merriweather is 19th in the nation in scoring with 20.6 points per game and leads the nation with 4.1 three-pointers made per game. Wes Burtner of Belmont was also named First Team All-Independent.
Braxton, a junior from Seabrook, Texas, edged out teammate Matt Palmquist and Centenary's Thomas Foster by two and three votes, respectively in picking up Defensive Player of the Year honors. Braxton averaged 2.0 steals and 4.4 rebounds per game for the Broncs.
Earning second team recognition was Lee Denmon and Damian Kirkaldy of Corpus Christi, Ed Dotson of Centenary, Matthew Haggarty of Albany and Steve Pratta of Stony Brook.
The awards were selected by a vote of Independent Coaches and Sports Information Directors.
Player of the Year: Michael Hicks, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Defensive Player of the Year: John Braxton, UT-Pan American Coach of the Year: Ronnie Arrow, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
All-Independent First Team (in order of votes received) Michael Hicks, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi; Ronnie McCollum, Centenary; Brian Merriweather, UT-Pan American; Todd Cetnar, Albany; Wes Burtner, Belmont
All-Independent Second Team (in order of votes received) Ed Dotson, Centenary; Matthew Haggarty, Albany; Lee Denmon, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi; Damian Kirkaldy, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi; Steve Pratta, Stony Brook