3 men’s basketball players earn OVC awards

Dillan Schorfheide, Sports Editor

The Daily Eastern News
Adam Tumino | The Daily Easterns News
Junior guard George Dixon goes up for a shot in Eastern’s 63-60 win against Murray State on Feb. 20 at Lantz Arena.

Josiah Wallace, Mack Smith and George Dixon were recognized Tuesday with OVC awards, as the OVC announced men’s and women’s awards before the conference tournaments start Wednesday.

“Very happy for them. It’s well-desreved,” Eastern head coach Jay Spoonhour said. “When you look at the names they’re with, you realize just how hard it is to make one of those teams.”

Wallace was placed on the preseason All-OVC First Team list and he followed through, being named to the list for the second straight season; he was among nine others on the All-OVC First Team.

He had a slow start to the season, scoring about six points per game on low shooting percentages, but in the middle of the season into conference play, Wallace started scoring like he did last year and could not be stopped.

Wallace has scored 20 or more points in the last seven games, and with the offensive explosion he had since the middle of the year, he finished the regular season averaging 15.5 points per game (eighth in the conference). Wallace also averaged 4.5 rebounds per game (tied for third on the team) and had 69 assists this season, second-most on the team.

Smith was named to the All-OVC Second Team, an honor he earned after finishing his best season as a Panther.

Smith has the second-longest streak in NCAA Division I history, by making a three-point shot in 79 straight games. It was a constant talking point among fans and local media, but Smith was able to not let it go to his head and keep the streak alive while also being a big factor in the Panthers’ offense.

Smith averaged 13.3 ppg (a career-high, second-most on the team and 12th in the conference), and he was fourth on the team with 53 assists. Smith also passed the 1,000-point career mark this season, and he had a great year defensively, with Spoonhour always reminding people about Smith’s defense and how much it improved.

That leaves Dixon, who was named to the All-OVC Newcomer Team and rightfully so.

Dixon averaged 8.7 rebounds per game, second-best in the conference behind only the OVC Player of the Year, Austin Peay’s Terry Taylor.

Dixon also averaged 11.1 points per game, third-most on the team, but more importantly, he gave the Panthers a consistent and viable threat to score in the post.

Last season, Eastern’s offense lacked a post scorer and was hindered by it, but with Dixon, the Eastern attack had another layer to go at teams with.

He was also 11th in the conference for his shooting percentage this year (53.1 percent from the field), and he was seventh in the conference with 1.4 steals per game.

Wallace, Smith and Dixon were the three key players to Eastern this season, and these awards they received show the impact they had for Eastern.

Dillan Schorfheide can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].