NEW ORLEANS – Arkansas State redshirt-senior Aundrea Gamble became the first student-athlete in Sun Belt Conference women’s basketball history to earn three consecutive Student-Athlete of the Year awards while Red Wolves head coach, Brian Boyer, earned his fourth Sun Belt Coach of the Year award and second in the past three seasons, the conference office announced on Tuesday.
The individual awards and all-conference teams were released following a vote by the league’s head coaches and a selected media panel.
South Alabama sophomore, Chyna Ellis, earned the Defensive Student-Athlete of the Year award while Georgia State’s Madison Newby earned the Freshman of the Year honor.
Gamble led Arkansas State to a school record 25 wins this season while finishing second in the conference in points with an 18.4 scoring average through the regular season. She ranks second in assists at 4.7 per game. This season, Gamble was asked to play point guard for the Red Wolves full-time and the transition from shooting guard to the point has gone very well as the Red Wolves road an 18-game winning streak to the regular season title and the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament.
USA’s Ellis has been a force both defensively and on the glass for the Jaguars as she has led the Sun Belt in blocks for most of the season and also ranks among the conference leaders in rebounding.
She continues to rank among the nation’s leaders in blocks, averaging 2.72 per game. Her 79 blocks have already surpassed her tally (56) her freshman single-season blocks record. She has had two or more blocks in 25 of her 29 games.
Newby led the Sun Belt in assists, averaging 5.0 per game and is one of three players in the Sun Belt with 250 points, 100 assists, 100 rebounds, joining Gamble and Troy's Ashley Beverly Kelley. She played the most minutes this season for the Panthers and had 13 games in double figures with a season high of 20 points. Newby posted 14 and 12 assists in two different games this season. The 14 assists in a single game was tied for the second-most in GSU history.
A-State’s Boyer earned his fourth Sun Belt Women's Basketball Coach of the Year award after leading the Red Wolves to the 2016 outright Sun Belt regular season title and the tournament's top overall seed. His Red Wolves went 25-4 overall and posted 19 wins in conference play. The 19 wins broke a Sun Belt record for most conference wins in a season while the 25 total wins broke the previous A-State school record.
Joining Gamble on the All-Conference First Team were A-State’s Khadija Brown-Haywood, Little Rock’s Shanity James, UL Lafayette’s Keke Veal and Troy’s Ashley Beverly-Kelley.
Arkansas State led all teams with three total selections on the three-teams, two on the first-team and one on the third-team. Little Rock, UL Lafayette, South Alabama, UT Arlington and Troy each placed two student-athletes on either the first-, second- or third-teams.
The 2016 Sun Belt Conference Women’s Basketball Championship begins on Wednesday, March 9 at 11:30 a.m. CT with the tip-off of first round games taking place at the Lakefront Arena. All games of the tournament will be carried by ESPN3. The championship game will tip at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday.
2016 Sun Belt All-Conference Teams
First Team All-Sun Belt Conference
Khadija Brown-Haywood (Arkansas State, Senior, Forward, Early Childhood Education)
Aundrea Gamble (Arkansas State, Senior, Guard, Master of Arts in Teaching)
Shanity James (Little Rock, Senior, Forward, Sociology)
Keke Veal (UL Lafayette, Senior, Guard, Sport Management)
Ashley Beverly Kelley (Troy, Senior, Guard, Exercise Science)
Second Team All-Sun Belt Conference
Alexius Dawn (Little Rock, Senior, Guard, Sociology)
Angel McGowan (Georgia Southern, Junior, Guard, Exercise Science)
Kia Wilridge (UL Lafayette, Senior Guard, Exercise Science)
Alayshia Hunter (UL Monroe, Senior, Forward, Kinesiology)
Rebekah VanDijk (UT Arlington, Sophomore, Center, Pre-Law)
Third Team All-Sun Belt Conference
Brittney Gill (Arkansas State, Senior, Guard, Interdisciplinary Studies)
Chyna Ellis (South Alabama, Sophomore, Center, Allied Health)
Marquita Daniels (South Alabama, Sophomore, Guard, Criminal Justice)
Cierra Johnson (UT Arlington, Sophomore, Guard, Child Psychology/Pre-Med)
Caitlyn Ramirez (Troy, Junior, Forward, Psychology)
2016 Sun Belt Conference Student-Athlete of the Year
Aundrea Gamble, Arkansas State
2016 Sun Belt Conference Defensive Student-Athlete of the Year
Chyna Ellis, South Alabama
2016 Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year
Madison Newby, Georgia State
2016 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year
Brian Boyer, Arkansas State