EL PASO, Texas - Senior Shawn Jones of the MTSU men's basketball team (23-8, 13-3 C-USA) was named the 2013-14 Conference USA Player of the Year as announced by the league office Wednesday.
This marks the first time in school history the Blue Raiders have swept conference player of the year honors for both the men's and women's teams as Ebony Rowe was named C-USA Women's Basketball Player of the Year earlier this week.
Jones picked up Player of the Year accolades after leading the Blue Raiders to a share of the regular season C-USA title, marking their third-straight regular season conference championship and fourth in the last five years. The All-C-USA First Team selection was a three-time C-USA Player of the Week and paced Middle Tennessee this season with 14.5 points per game and 15.1 points an outing in league play.
The Hialeah, Fla., native becomes the fifth player in program history and second in the last three years to earn conference player of the year honors, following one Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and three Ohio Valley Conference Players of the Year. LaRon Dendy earned the award in the Sun Belt in 2012, George Sorrell in the OVC in 1975, Tim Sisneros in the OVC in 1976 and Jerry Beck in the OVC in 1981 and 1982.
"Player of the Year candidates usually have the most impact on winning on their team than anyone in the league and I know there are some really, really good players in Conference USA and no guy was more valuable to us winning the league than Shawn Jones," said MT head coach Kermit Davis. "I just think Players of the Year can affect the game on both ends, on high field goal percentage, rebounding, points scored, but what he really did to affect the game is being second in our league in blocked shots so he was a big part of anchoring our defense."
Jones leads the Blue Raiders on the boards, pulling down 8.5 rebounds a game and 8.1 boards per contest in C-USA games. He led MT in blocked shots with 61 on the year to average 2.0 swats per game and 2.5 in conference play. In C-USA only games, he ranks seventh in scoring, fifth in rebounding and second in blocked shots.
According the NCAA statistical rankings released March 9, Jones ranks 19th in the nation in field goal percentage and second in C-USA, shooting 58.1-percent from the floor. The 6-foot-8 senior ranks 46th in the nation and fourth in the conference with 10 double-doubles on the year.
"The last thing I'd like to say about Shawn Jones is that people who just watch him play have no idea just what a great person he is," Davis said. "He's going to graduate on time and he's just the most receptive guy to coaching we've ever had at Middle Tennessee, just the most low-maintenance person so he just defines what a great student-athlete should be."
Jones helped MT secure a double-bye in the C-USA Championship at the No. 3-seed in MT's first year in the league. The Blue Raiders will open the C-USA Championship in El Paso, Texas with the quarterfinal round Thursday, March 13 at 3:30 p.m. CT, taking on the winner of the No. 14-seed Marshall and No. 6-seed Old Dominion contest Wednesday.