From SFA Athletics
ST. LOUIS- The United State Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) revealed its list of 2015-16 Men’s Basketball All-District Teams on Tuesday afternoon, and representing Stephen F. Austin on the 11-member All-District VII Team was none other than reigning two-time Southland Conference Player of the Year Thomas Walkup.
A senior out of Pasadena, Texas, Walkup is no stranger to the spotlight and has ensured that a number of them will be shining in his and the Lumberjacks’ directions while in the midst of a spectacular final campaign. On the morning of Monday, March 7, Walkup became the first man in 23 years to capture back-to-back SLC Player of the Year titles and did so by averaging 17.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.1 steals per game. In addition to his Player of the Year honor, the senior was placed on both the All-SLC First Team and the SLC All-Defensive Team.
Those gaudy numbers helped the Lumberjacks post their fourth-straight season of 25 or more wins and finish the regular season as the only team in NCAA Division I men’s basketball that didn’t suffer an in-conference loss (18-0). SFA is the 20th program in the history of the NCAA that has gone undefeated in a conference schedule of 18 or more games and is one of four programs that have accomplished that feat in multiple seasons, joining the likes of Indiana, Temple and UNLV.
Through the course of 2015-16, Walkup shot to the top of no fewer than five of the ‘Jacks career statistical charts. The versatile guard/forward is the program’s all-time leader in field goals made (607), rebounds (728), free throws made (396), games played (131) and wins (113).
When stacked up against the rest of the Southland Conference, Walkup stands out even further by ranking among the top-five student athletes in some seven statistical categories. His scoring and rebounding averages both rank fourth in the 13-team league while his assists and offensive rebounding (2.3/game) averages are the fifth-best in the SLC. A field goal percentage of .595 and his steals per game average are both second in the conference.
On the national stage, his field goal percentage is the 27th-best among all NCAA Division I men’s basketball players and his 2.1 steals per game signify the 23rd-highest mark nationally. His 63 steals in 2015-16 represent a new single-season SFA record, surpassing the previous single-season best of 61 originally established in 1986 and tied on three occasions.
Perhaps the biggest indication of his all-around basketball prowess came on February 29, when he constructed SFA’s first triple-double performance in 43 years by amassing 12 points, a career-best 15 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists. Walkup’s defensive game sparkled, too, as he notched a game-high five steals to become just the second NCAA Division I men’s basketball player in the past 20 years to notch at least 10 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists and five steals in a game.
With Walkup leading the way, the ‘Jacks have captured the number-one overall seed in the 2016 Southland Conference Tournament and will engage in a semifinal bout with either Houston Baptist, Southeastern Louisiana or New Orleans at 5:00 p.m., on Friday evening at the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas.
Ticket for the semifinal game are on sale now and can be purchased by calling the SFA athletics ticket office at 936-468-JACK (5225).
USBWA All-District VII Team
Player of the Year
Ben Simmons, LSU
Coach of the Year
Billy Kennedy, Texas A&M
Rico Gathers, Baylor
Alex Hamilton, Louisiana Tech
Danuel House, Texas A&M
Jalen Jones, Texas A&M
Moses Kingsley, Arkansas
Shawn Long, Louisiana
Nic Moore, SMU
Taurean Prince, Baylor
Ben Simmons, LSU
Isaiah Taylor, Texas
Thomas Walkup, Stephen F. Austin