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Taylor named SAC Player of the Year

Tuesday, March 3, 2009   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Katy Watson
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All-SAC men's team
All-SAC Women's team

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (March 1, 2009) – Oklahoma Christian University junior center Jason Taylor has been named the men's basketball player of the year in the Sooner Athletic Conference.

In addition to Taylor's player-of-the-year and first-team honors, OC sophomore guard Jeff Crocker and senior forward Kyle Tefft earned selection to the All-SAC third-team.

On the women's side, OC sophomore forward Hillary Duncan was a third-team selection while junior forward Brittney Kennedy and junior guard Kailan DeCamp earned honorable mention.

Oklahoma Christian also led the SAC in academic honors, with 12 student-athletes earning Academic All-Conference distinction (juniors or seniors with grade point averages of 3.25 or higher).

DeCamp, Cressi Bryant, Lisa Chenoweth, Jordan Findley, Lindsey Gipson, Charlotte Heron, Haley Myers and Devin Sewell were the Lady Eagles' academic honorees. Taylor, Tefft, Michael Hill and Jon Jonsson represented the Eagles on the academic team.

Taylor paced the SAC in scoring (23.5 points per game) and rebounding (8.3 per game) in leading Oklahoma Christian to a 22-8 regular-season record and third-place conference finish.

“He's had as good a season as probably anyone we've had in my 26 years at Oklahoma Christian,” head coach Dan Hays said. “He's deserving because he's paid the price. He not only works on his game, but he also works on his body. Jason doesn't need a crowd of people or buddies to make him better, he just needs a gym and a ball, and I think that separates him from other players.”

Taylor's SAC Player of the Year award is the ninth in Eagle program history. He joins Rob Mayberry (1979-80), Doug Bradley (1984-85, 1985-86), Steve Dunn (1988-89), Cory Cole (1993-94), Jay Mauck (1998-99) and Jarred Merrill (2003-04, 2004-05).

“It's a huge honor,” Taylor said. “Looking back at the history at OC and who has won the award, to me it's just really special to be on a list with guys like Jay Mauck and Jarred Merrill. I know I'm not on their level yet, but it's a real honor just to be mentioned with them. To win it for OC and Coach Hays is a huge honor too.”

Taylor ranks third in NAIA Division I in points per game, 15th in field-goal percentage (58 percent) and 26th in rebounding. He scored a career-high 41 points in OC's Feb. 12 win over Lubbock Christian (Texas). His current total of 683 points is the highest at OC since Merrill scored a school-record 821 in the 2004-05 season. Taylor's 600-point season is the 16th in OC history.

Hays says what is equally impressive about Taylor is the way he handles himself off the court and in the presence of his teammates.

“Jason takes things in perspective. He knows how important his teammates are, and you'll never see him put himself ahead of anyone. Jason is totally unassuming and always looking to credit other people. For that reason, there's never a hint of jealousy in our locker room. Other guys are happy for him because Jason treats them with respect, and he knows that they're a big part of what we does,” Hays said.

Crocker followed up his 2007-08 SAC Freshman of the Year award with an even better season in 2008-09. He leads the SAC in assists with 5.6 per game and is the Eagles' second-leading scorer with 12.3 points per game. The Sugar Land, Texas, native is shooting 38 percent from three-point range by making 63-of-167 attempts from downtown.

Tefft set a school record with 94 steals in 2008-09 after snatching a takeaway in all 30 regular-season games. His 3.1 steals per game ranks third in the NAIA. The Enid, Okla., product ranks fourth on the squad with 9.7 points per game and second on the team with 4.6 rebounds per contest. The third-team honor is the second-straight for Tefft.

Duncan broke onto the scene for the Lady Eagles this year, leading the team in rebounding at 5.8 per contest before being sidelined late in the year by injury. The Tulsa, Okla., native averaged 10.4 points per game and had 11 double-figure scoring efforts. She scored a career-best 18 points at Northwestern Oklahoma State.

Kennedy is OC's leading scorer at 11.6 points per game on 53 percent shooting from the field. Kennedy scored in double figures in 12 of the Lady Eagles' last 13 regular-season games, and 20 games overall. The Sapulpa, Okla., native is second on the team in rebounding at 4.7 per game.

DeCamp is now a three-time All-SAC selection (one first team, two honorable mentions). She leads OC in assists (3.1) and steals (1.8) per game. The Coweta, Okla., product scored a season-high 17 points against John Brown (Ark.) and dished out a career-high nine assists vs. Ozarks (Mo.).

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