X Factor: Smith Leads Men's Basketball All-Conference
In addition to his 19 points per game, Xavier Smith leads the GNAC with a .869 free-throw percentage.
In addition to his 19 points per game, Xavier Smith leads the GNAC with a .869 free-throw percentage.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

PORTLAND, Ore. – The leader of a four-man scoring machine that has paced Central Washington to a 15-8 overall record, Wildcats senior guard Xavier Smith has been named the GNAC’s Player of the Year and leads the selections to the 2021-22 GNAC Men’s Basketball All-Conference Team.

Smith paces a CWU team that is first in the GNAC and 28th in Division II in scoring. He enters the GNAC Championships as the conference’s second-leading scorer at 19 points per game. One of the most accurate shooters in the conference, Smith boasts a .519 field goal percentage, a .402 three-point percentage and a .869 free-throw percentage, which leads the league.

Smith has scored in double figures in all but one of his 23 games this season, led by a 29-point performance against Saint Martin’s on Feb. 1.

Western Washington sophomore guard D’Angelo Minnis was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. Northwest Nazarene guard Tru Allen was selected as the Freshman of the Year while Montana State Billings junior guard Carrington Wiggins was honored as the Newcomer of the Year. Saint Martin’s Aaron Landon was selected by his peers as the Coach of the Year.

In earning Defensive Player of the Year honors, Minnis paced a Western Washington team that limited opponents to 45.1 percent from the field and 38.8 percent from three-point range. In addition to his 12.4 points per game, Minnis closed the regular season with 3.2 rebounds per game and 29 steals. In addition to his defensive prowess, Minnis is second in the GNAC with 36.6 minutes per game and fifth with 4.4 assists per contest.

Allen is the third-leading scorer for Northwest Nazarene at 12.2 points per game and has started all but one of the Nighthawks’ games this season. He ranks third in the conference with 1.8 steals per game and provided double-digit scoring in 13 games, led by a pair of 19-point performances against Bushnell on Nov. 13 and Alaska on Feb. 12.

Wiggins, a junior transfer from Mott Community College in Michigan, proved to be one of the conference’s most dynamic scorers in earning Newcomer of the Year honors. The conference’s No. 6 scorer at 17.5 points per game, Wiggins has scored 20 or more points 13 times and over 30 points twice. His season-high was a 34-point outburst at Saint Martin’s on Feb. 3. Wiggins is tied for eighth in the GNAC with two three-pointers made per game.

Coaching a team that was picked to finish seventh in the preseason coaches poll, Landon led Saint Martin’s to its second regular-season title in the last four years and the No. 1 seed in the GNAC Championships, which SMU is hosting in Lacey. The Saints are averaging 78.8 points per game and lead the GNAC in three-point percentage (.427) while ranking second in field goal percentage (.486) and assists (16.3 per game).

Defensively sound as well in Landon’s third season at the helm, Saint Martin’s has limited opponents to 68.5 points per game, second in the GNAC, while limiting opponents to a league-leading 31.3 rebounds per contest.

Saint Martin’s landed one first-team selection in senior Brett Reed. The forward is averaging 13.9 points per game and is the second-leading rebounder in the GNAC with 8.5 per game. Reed also ranks fifth in the GNAC in field goal percentage (.570) and leads the conference in offensive rebounds with 3.6 per game. Reed has nine double-doubles on the season and has a season-high of 23 points against Academy of Art on Nov. 26.

Alaska Anchorage senior forward Oggie Pantovic and Seattle Pacific senior guard Divant’e Moffitt earned first-team selections for the second straight year. Pantovic is one of two players to rank in the GNAC top 10 in both scoring and rebounding, ranking fourth with 8.3 rebounds per game and eighth with 15.9 points per game. A starter in all but two of the Seawolves’ 20 games this season, Pantovic finished with season-highs of 30 points against Western Washington on Feb. 5 and 16 rebounds at Chaminade on Nov. 14.

Moffitt is the Falcons’ leading scorer and ranks third in the conference with 19 points per game. The playmaker also ranks eighth in the conference with 3.8 assists per game to lead an experienced SPU squad. Moffitt has scored double digits in all but four games this season, led by a 32-point performance against Simon Fraser on Feb. 17.

Despite missing much of the first half of the season due to injury, sophomore forward James Nelson was an impact player for Northwest Nazarene through the bulk of the conference schedule. Nelson is NNU’s leading scorer with 15.7 points per game and is averaging 7.3 rebounds per game. His season includes a pair of 21-point performances against Bushnell on Nov. 13 and against Western Oregon on Jan. 20.

Northwest Nazarene and Saint Martin’s lead all teams with four All-GNAC selections. In addition to Nelson, the Nighthawks landed honorable mention selections in Allen, sophomore forward Gabriel Murphy and sophomore guard George Reidy. Joining Reed on the all-conference team for Saint Martin’s is a pair of second-teamers in sophomore guards Kyle Greeley and Alex Schumacher and an honorable mention choice in freshman guard Jaden Nielsen-Skinner.

Player of the Year: Xavier Smith, Central Washington
Coach of the Year: Aaron Landon, Saint Martin's
Defensive Player of the Year:
D'Angelo Minnis, Western Washington
Freshman of the Year:
Tru Allen, Northwest Nazarene
Newcomer of the Year:
Carrington Wiggins, Montana State Billings

FIRST TEAM          
Name School Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown (Previous School)
* Xavier Smith Central Washington G 6-4 Sr. Seattle, Wash. (Univ. of Idaho)
*+ Oggie Pantovic Alaska Anchorage F 6-7 Sr. Kovin, Serbia (Utah State Eastern)
* Brett Reed Saint Martin’s F 6-8 Sr. Houston, Texas (Chaminade Univ.)
*+ Divant’e Moffitt Seattle Pacific G 6-2 Sr. Spanaway, Wash. (Spanaway Lake)
* Carrington Wiggins Montana State Billings G 6-2 Jr. Flint, Mich. (Mott CC)
* James Nelson Northwest Nazarene F 6-6 So. Salem, Utah (Salem Hills)
SECOND TEAM          
Name School Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown (Previous School)
@ Cameron Cranston Western Oregon G 6-6 Jr. Vancouver, Wash. (Union)
@ Tobin Karlberg Alaska Anchorage G 6-0 Jr. Anchorage, Alaska (Grace Christian)
@ Jalen Green Western Washington F 6-8 Jr. Renton, Wash. (Lindbergh)
Kyle Greeley Saint Martin’s G 6-5 So. Salem, Ore. (Portland State Univ.)
Julian Roche Simon Fraser F 7-0 Sr. Saint John, N.B. (Santa Clara Univ.)
Alex Schumacher Saint Martin’s G 6-3 So. Vancouver, Wash. (Skyview)
Name School Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown (Previous School)
+ Shadeed Shabazz Alaska G 6-1 Sr. Seattle, Wash. (Iowa Western Coll.)
Coleman Sparling Alaska F 6-7 Sr. Ellensburg, Wash. (Univ. of Texas-Arlington)
David Thompson Central Washington G 6-0 Sr. Milwaukee, Wis. (Santa Clara Univ.)
Damen Thacker Montana State Billings G 6-0 Sr. Meridian, Idaho (Univ. of Idaho)
Tru Allen Northwest Nazarene G 6-0 Fr. Lapwai, Idaho (Clarkston)
Gabriel Murphy Northwest Nazarene F 6-9 So. Tracy, Calif. (Modesto Christian)
George Reidy Northwest Nazarene G 6-5 So. Edmonds, Wash. (Cedar Park Christian)
Jaden Nielsen-Skinner Saint Martin’s G 5-10 Fr. Salem, Ore. (Portland State Univ.)
Shaw Anderson Seattle Pacific F 6-6 Jr. Kelso, Wash. (Kelso)
# Harry Cavell Seattle Pacific G 6-6 Sr. Keizer, Ore. (McNary)
Daniel Hornbuckle Western Washington G 6-0 Jr. Fairbanks, Alaska (Portland CC)
D’Angelo Minnis Western Washington G 5-10 So. Kent, Wash. (Kentwood)
* - Unanimous Selection     
+ - First Team Selection in 2019-20     
# - Second Team Selection in 2019-20    
@ - Honorable Mention in 2019-20