CONWAY, SC After helping spur an eight-game turnaround from a year ago, Coastal Carolina mens basketball's Jack Leasure (Rochester, N.Y./McQuaid Jesuit) has been named the Big South Conference Player of the Year for the 2005-06 season, announced today by the league office. In addition, two other Chanticleers took home honors in the announcement prior to the 2006 Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Championship, as senior guard Pele Paelay (Derwood, Md./Magruder) was named Second Team All-Big South, while forward Joseph Harris (Lejeune, N.C./Lejeune) was named to the Big South's All-Freshman Team, which was voted on by the Leagues head coaches, sports information directors and media panel.
Leasure, who was also named to the First Team, led the Chanticleers and ranked fourth in the league in scoring at 18.3 points per game. He leads the nation in three-pointers per game at 4.37 and ranks in the top 30 nationally in three-point field goal percentage, hitting 43.7 percent (118-for-270) from beyond the arc. He set a new league record for single-season three pointers with 118 so far, surpassing Radford's Doug Day with 117, accomplished during the 1991-92 season. Leasure also ranks among the top 10 in the league in assists (2nd, 4.22 apg), steals (5th, 1.70 spg), three-point field goal percentage (3rd, .437) and assist-to-turnover ratio (5th, 1.48). This is the third time in the last four years that a Coastal player has won the award, as Paelay was the 2005 recipient, while Torrey Butler captured the honors in 2003.
Leasure was also named Men's Basketball's Scholar-Athlete of the Year and to the All-Academic squad by the league's SIDs. A history major with a 3.71 grade-point average, the sophomore was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District First Team as presented by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) earlier this month and is on the ballot for Academic All-American honors. This marks the first time in league history that both the Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards were earned by the same player.
A First-Team honoree last year, Paelay currently ranks seventh in the league in scoring at 14.9 points per game. He ranks 20th in rebounding at 4.9 per game, sixth in free-throw percentage at 76.6 percent (82-for-107) and is in the top-15 in assists, steals and field-goal percentage. He became just the 13th Chanticleer in school history to reach the 1,000-point total in his career, currently ranking 10th with 1,134 points. He has also cracked the top 10 on Coastal's career steals and blocked shots chart.
Harris, a two-time Freshman of the Week honoree, was a close runner-up in Freshman of the Year balloting, finishing two points behind UNC Asheville's Michael Ellis. On the year, he is averaging 5.8 points and 5.4 rebounds a game, tying for 15th in the league for the year. In conference action, he has increased his averages to 8.0 points and 7.3 rebounds a game, ranking fourth in Big South games only. He posted a pair of double-doubles this year, including career-highs of 14 points and 16 rebounds in Coastals 78-60 win over High Point, Feb. 6.
No. 2 seed Coastal returns to the floor Tuesday night in the opening round of the Big South Conference Championship, playing No. 7 seed UNC Asheville at 7 p.m. at Kimbel Arena.