The first Big West Conference regular-season men's basketball championship in 12 seasons produced multiple honors for Anteaters players, as well as Coach Russell Turner.
Senior Chris McNealy earned first-team all-conference recognition, while 7-foot-6 freshman Mamadou Ndiaye was named Defensive Player of the Year, freshman guard Luke Nelson was the Freshman of the Year and Turner was Coach of the Year.
In addition, Nelson was a second-team all-conference honoree and Ndiaye was a member of the All-Freshman team.
McNealy, a 6-foot-5 guard, the first UCI player to make the first team since Patrick Sanders in 2008, enters the Big West Tournament averaging 11.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. He ranks 18th in UCI history with 1,185 points and 20th with 512 rebounds. McNealy is 11th all-time at UCI with 129 career three-pointers, 12th with 100 steals and 13th with 274 assists.
Ndiaye, ranks No. 8 in the nation with 94 blocked shots, one shy of the conference record set by Michael Olowokandi of Pacific in 1997-98. Ndiaye, as well as junior Will Davis, last season's Big West Defensive Player of he Year when he set a then-school record with 88 blocks, helped UCI lead the conference in field-goal percentage defense (.375).
Turner, in his fourth season, has led the Anteaters to a 22-10 record, the third most single-season wins in the 49-season history of the program, as well as back-to-back 20-win campaigns.
The No. 1-seeded Anteaters meet UC Riverside in the Big West Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Honda Center. UCI is attempting to win the eight-team event and claim the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, a first for the program.
Turner's squad, picked to win the Big West in a preseason media poll, was 13-3 in conference this season to finish one game ahead of UC Santa Barbara. UCI has won nine of its last 10 games and 15 of its last 18.
Since Feb. 1, UCI leads the nation in field-goal percentage defense (.332). The 'Eaters are 20-0 this season when holding the opposition to at or worse than 40% shooting from the field.
Turner is UCI's first Big West Coach of the Year since Pat Douglass in 2001.
Davis, sophomore guard Alex Young and Ndiaye received honorable mention in all-conference voting.
Davis averages 10.7 points and a team-leading 6.3 rebounds per game.
Young (8.8 ppg) leads the team with 146 assists.
Ndiaye averaged 8.2 points and six rebounds and is shooting 71.4 from the field (105 for 147).
UC Santa Barbara's Alan Williams, a 6-7 junior forward who set a record by being named conference player of the week six times this season, is the Big West Conference Player of the Year. He averages 21.6 points and 11.6 rebounds per contest, the latter ranks No. 2 in the nation.
— From staff reports