The American University men’s basketball team (4-5) had three players honored in the Patriot League’s postseason awards announced Tuesday.
Senior guard Jamir Harris was one of five players named to the First Team All-Patriot League, becoming the 15th player in AU history to earn such honor, and the third straight year the Eagles have had someone make the first team. Harris finished the regular season as AU’s leading scorer and the third-leading scorer in the conference this year, averaging 20.8 points per game. Harris also currently leads all of Division I men’s basketball with four 3-pointers made per game, and led the Patriot League in minutes played per game, logging 39.2 per contest.
“Our team does a good job of moving the ball and trying to get him his looks,” head coach Mike Brennan said after the Eagles victory over Bucknell Sunday. “And then he does a good job of moving the ball and cutting and not just being a one-dimensional, guardable guy. He’s done a good job, and when they do check him, he’s going by them now and he’s making plays. … He’s quickly becoming the complete player that I thought he could be.”
AU freshman forward Johnny O’Neil was awarded the Patriot League Rookie of the Year award after his standout season for the Eagles this year. With most of the defensive attention and scoring load expected to go to Harris and senior guard Stacy Beckton Jr. this year, O’Neil served as an impressive and efficient third scoring option for the Eagles this season. Not only did O’Neil lead all freshmen in the Patriot League in scoring this year at 10.6 per game, but he was also the only freshman to average in double-figures. O’Neil also finished the regular season third in blocks in the Patriot League, averaging 1.7 per game.
O’Neil shot 40.5 percent from 3-point range for the season, good for eighth in the Patriot League (Harris and Beckton finished fifth and sixth respectively), and became only the fourth Eagle to win Patriot League Rookie of the Year, joining the likes of Andre Ingram, Derrick Mercer and Delante Jones.
"I'm extremely blessed and humbled to receive this recognition. Without my teammates and coaches believing in me, I wouldn't be receiving this award," O'Neil said. "I'd like to thank God for helping me to get where I am today and thank my family for supporting me throughout my journey."
Beckton also received All-Patriot League honors, making the conference’s All-Defensive team for the second year in a row. Beckton finished the year second in steals for the Eagles with 1.1, behind only Connor Nelson, and 15th in the Patriot League. While he spent part of the year nursing an injury and his stats were slightly lower than last season’s, his on-ball defense remained outstanding and he was recognized by the head coaches in the conference.
“Stacy has only been healthy for six games, but he gives everything he has every day," Brennan said in a statement. "Jamir and Stacy put up big numbers but their leadership, on and off the court, has been their most important contribution to this team. Despite all of the obstacles, this entire group has been a joy to coach all year.”
Navy’s (15-2) Cam Davis and Loyola Maryland’s (4-10) Santi Aldama were also named to the First Team All-Patriot League alongside Harris, making up three players from the Patriot League South Division with the honor. The Eagles played seven of their nine games this year against Navy and Loyola, making Eagles fans very familiar with Davis and Aldama.
Army West Point (11-8), who the Eagles play Saturday in the Patriot League tournament’s quarterfinals, also had three players receive Patriot League postseason honors. Junior guard Josh Caldwell, who is expected to draw the primary defensive matchup against Harris Saturday, was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. The Black Knights leading scorer, senior guard Lonnie Grayson, was named Second Team All-Patriot League, and freshman guard Jalen Rucker joined O’Neil on the conference’s All-Rookie team.