- Inside Athletics
- Staff Directory
- Bleu Zone
New Orleans (excerpts from www.gcaconf.com) — The Gulf Coast Athletic Conference announced today the 12-member All-GCAC Men's Basketball team, along with the five member GCAC All-Defensive team, as voted on by a panel of the conference's seven head coaches. Dillard University junior forward Demetric Austin (JR/Washington, D.C.) earned First Team All-GCAC honors while teammate junior point guard Dennis Hightower (JR/Chicago, Ill.) earned Second Team All-GCAC honors. Over the summer, both players transferred from the University of Pikeville, a program currently ranked number four in the NAIA and a team that could very well face the Bleu Devils if they are fortunate enough to earn a berth to the big dance in Kansas City.
"It feels good to hear this," said Austin. "I have worked hard since the summer and just took it day by day, never gave up and kept my eye on trying to get myself back in basketball shape."
The Washington D.C. native leads the conference in double-doubles (10) and leads his Bleu Devils in both scoring and rebounding this season with 19.8 points per game (3rd in GCAC/17th in NAIA) and 9.3 boards per game (2nd in GCAC/14th in NAIA), and he's in the running for conference player of the year as well as 2016 LABC State Small College Player of the Year. He is also 2-time GCAC Men's Basketball Player of the Week.
"I'm proud of my teammate Tree for getting First Team All-GCAC," said Hightower. "He deserves it with his work ethic and how much he works on his game."
"It's a blessing!" exclaimed Austin. "All praise to the man upstairs because without him, none of this would have happened."
His teammate Hightower leads a team that has made the biggest turnaround in the NAIA (+ 13 wins) this season.
"It's a pretty big accomplishment, especially with me sitting out one whole year," said Hightower. The Danville/Chicago native leads the Bleu Devils in both assists and steals per game this season with 5.46 assists per game (2nd in GCAC/10th in NAIA) and 2.25 steals per game (1st in GCAC/6th in NAIA) He currently sits fifth in the country in total steals (63) which is the most in conference. "It shows that I can compete with the top players in the conference." Hightower's defensive play was noticed by the conference as he also earned GCAC All-Defensive team honorable mention along with Kristian Clark (JR/Ocean Springs, Miss.).
The Bleu Devils finished with 18 regular season wins, good enough for the second seed in this week's conference tournament. Thankfully for Dillard, the first round of the men's tournament will be at the Battlefield in Dent Hall as they face the seventh seed Southern University at New Orleans on Friday, March 4 at 5:00 p.m. On January 16, Dillard beat the SUNO Knights by 10 points at the Battlefield and on February 8 they completed the season sweep with a 25-point thrashing of SUNO on their home floor, the Castle.
With a win, the Bleu devils advance to the semi-final round of the GCAC tournament for the 1st time since 2013 and will face the winner of the #3 Philander Smith/#6 Edward Waters game. This game will be on Saturday, March 5 at 7:00 p.m. at the Convocation Center on the campus of Xavier University. Dillard swept Philander Smith and split the season series with Edward Waters.
A win would catapult the Bleu Devils to the GCAC championship game for the first time since 2013 as they face either #1 Talladega/#4 Xavier or #5 Tougaloo on Sunday, March 6 at 4:15 p.m. at the Convocation Center on the campus of Xavier University. Dillard also split the season series with Talladega, Xavier and Tougaloo.