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Coaches pick ETSU’s Bradford as SoCon’s player of the year

Joe Avento • Feb 28, 2018 at 7:47 PM

JOHNSON CITY — East Tennessee State senior guard Desonta Bradford was chosen as the Southern Conference’s basketball player of the year by the league’s coaches on Wednesday.

In addition, the SoCon coaches picked ETSU’s Bo Hodges as the freshman of the year.

“It’s a good feeling,” Bradford said before Wednesday’s practice. “It’s something I worked extremely hard for. It’s a good individual accolade, but I really want to win the championship on Monday. Give all the credit to my teammates and the coaches. They put us in position for stuff like this to happen.”

ETSU’s Jalan McCloud was a second-team all-conference selection and Mladen Armus joined Hodges on the all-freshman team.

The media chose Wofford’s Fletcher Magee as player of the year and Virginia Military Institute’s Bubba Parham as freshman of the year.

UNC Greensboro’s Wes Miller, whose team takes the No. 1 seed into the SoCon tournament, was voted coach of the year in both polls. UNCG’s James Dickey was picked as the defensive player of the year.

Bradford helped the Bucs finish second in the Southern Conference’s regular season. They were in first place all season until the final day, when a loss to Furman capped a three-game losing streak to end the regular season.

ETSU will take a 23-8 record into Saturday’s SoCon tournament 6 p.m. quarterfinal against either Samford or Chattanooga.

Bradford is third in the SoCon in scoring at 15.5 points per game. He’s the only player to rank in the top 10 in the league in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, field goal percentage and free throw percentage.

He became the 10th ETSU player to win a conference player of the year award and the first since Mike Smith was the Atlantic Sun Conference’s player of the year in 2010-11. Tim Smith and Courtney Pigram also won the A-Sun award.

The Bucs’ last SoCon player of the year was Zakee Wadood in 2004.

“I’m happy for Desonta,” ETSU coach Steve Forbes. “It’s the culmination of four years of hard work. He had a great all-around year. I was appreciative of the coaches to recognize that and vote for him.”

Hodges averaged 9.3 points per game, fourth on the team, and reached double-figures 10 times. His high was a 20-point outburst at Fordham back in December.

“Bo didn’t think he was going to win it,” Bradford said. “I was telling him, man, he’s the best freshman in this league. Eventually he’s going to become the best player in this league. He’a great player. He’s a great talent. The sky’s the limit for him.”

Hodges is ETSU’s first SoCon freshman of the year since Tim Smith was beginning a 2,300-point career during the 2002-03 season

“I think Bo had a very consistent year for us as a freshman,” Forbes said. “He came in and played major minutes and did a lot of different things for us, not just scoring, but rebounding and defending. He’s showing flashes of what he’s going to be in the next three years.”

Joining Bradford and Magee on the first team were UNCG’s Francis Alonso, The Citadel’s Zane Najdawi and Furman’s Devin Sibley, the reigning player of the year.

Kingsport’s Matt Halvorsen, who plays for Western Carolina, was on the media’s all-freshman team.

Nine of the 10 SoCon schools — all but Chattanooga — were represented on either the all-conference or all-freshman teams.

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