AZUSA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific’s starting backcourt tandem of sophomore guard Troy Leaf and senior guard B.J. Porter earned All-Pacific West Conference honors, with Leaf named first team while Porter earned third team recognition.
“Those two were clearly our two most consistent and best players this year, so I’m glad that they were honored,” head coach Justin Leslie said. “They carried us through the season, there’s no question about that. For where we finished and what we did, these honors are a great testament to everything those two did for us this year. To put together a strong finish like we did this first year in the PacWest will open some eyes next year to see how we build off of this.”
Leaf was the PacWest’s third-leading scorer, averaging 18.4 points through the end of the regular season, and he was second in the league in assists with 127 (5.1 average). During conference play, he was the league’s only player to rank in the top-five in both scoring and assists, and he also ranked in the top 10 in three-pointers made and assist-to-turnover ratio. He finished just outside the top 10 at 11th in three-point percentage during PacWest play.
“Troy had a fantastic year – he was as good as any player in the league,” Leslie said. “He had some high-assist games and some high-rebound games for us, and he consistently scored, as well. It’s especially exciting for him because he’s a first team all-conference player as a sophomore. Along with that comes added pressure and responsibility, and I think he’s ready for that.”
Leaf opened the year with a 27-point performance to lead the Cougars to a season-opening win over Central Washington, one of his 10 20-point games on the year. He registered three 30-point games and three double-doubles on the year, notching 21 points and 10 rebounds in a home win over Point Loma before registering 17-point, 11-assist and 12-point, 12-assist efforts in consecutive wins over California Baptist in the final week of the season.
Porter was the conference’s top three-point shooter, leading the league with 86 makes (3.3 per game) while ranking among the PacWest leaders in scoring with a 15.3 scoring average which ranked eighth in the conference. He converted 36 percent (86-of-239) on three-pointers during the year, and he ranked second on the team in blocks with 14.
“B.J.’s performance was one of the best shooting seasons we’ve had from a player in this program’s history,” Leslie said. “The way he grew as a leader and defensively, he really became more of a complete player, so for him to be recognized in those other areas beyond shooting is a testament to his work and leadership.”
Porter also opened the year with one of his season-best scoring efforts, tallying 24 points in the opener against Central Washington for his first of four 20-point games. He tied his season-high against Academy of Art Feb. 4, and he tied his career-high with 25 points in a victory over California Baptist to open up postseason play in a National Christian College Athletic Association first-round playoff game.
“B.J. has aspirations of playing professionally after this year, and he’s put together a resume that’s going to give him a shot,” Leslie said. “He came here as a talented basketball player, a shooter with upside, but he was not in the best place spiritually and mentally. He was broken. After his two years in the program, to get his degree, to see just how tough he’s become on the court along with how well he’s prepared himself for academic success by getting his degree, he also showed that he has the maturity that it took to be consistent while being the focal point of other teams this year,. That was a testament to his growth as a man. He’s a completely different person than when he came in here, and I’m really proud of him.”
The selection of Leaf and Porter to the all-conference team marked the second consecutive season the Cougars have had its starting backcourt named to the all-conference team. One of last year’s all-conference picks, point guard Robert Sandoval, redshirted the 2012-13 season and will join with Leaf to give Azusa Pacific a returning all-conference backcourt to start the 2013-14 campaign.
“We’ve got a shot next year to have a very good backcourt that should be the strength of our team,” Leslie said. “With that, we’re going to need everybody to step up and raise the level. I think we have all-conference caliber players in the frontcourt, but they need to develop and go out and produce consistently. This was a really good year, and I’m very happy about it, because it was about laying the foundation for us in the west region in Division II. We know what we’re up against, and we know what we need to do.”
Chaminade’s De’Andre Haskins was named the PacWest Player of the Year, while Alex Carmon from Holy Names picked up the Freshman of the Year award. Fresno Pacific’s John Taylor was named PacWest Newcomer of the Year.