AIKEN, S.C. -- Georgia Southwestern stormed its way through the Peach Belt to its first-ever Western Division championship, and the conference recognized the Hurricanes late Friday night by awarding them three of the conference's top four end-of-the-year awards.
Phillip Brown was named the PBC's Player of the Year, Mike Leeder the Coach of the Year and Colin Slotter the Freshman of the Year. The coach and player honors were a first for GSW, while Slotter being named top newcomer was the second time after Evan Mobley won it in 2008-09.
Slotter was also named to the PBC Third Team, and Trayce Macon was named to the Second Team. All three players were transfers.
"It was just a lot of fun to be a part of, and it was a great environment," Leeder said of the award ceremony. "It was a tremendous night for a lot of people that have put in a lot of hard work. I just appreciate the support we've received."
Leeder felt Brown and Slotter would receive their awards, but was somewhat surprised he was tabbed as the top coach.
Despite boasting the Hurricanes' best season of 20-7 since joining Division II in 2006-07, Leeder thought Dip Metress of Augusta State would have been picked. The Jaguars (26-3) are ranked fifth in the country.
"I really thought he would win it," said Leeder. "It's nice to be recognized by your peers. It's a really good league, and we have really good coaches. For those guys to think that highly of what we've been able to accomplish this year, it's very nice. This is a very difficult league to be successful in, and being successful makes it even more meaningful."
Brown was the Player of the Week three times this season, becoming only the fifth player in PBC history to do so in a single season. He averaged 15.1 points a game and led the PBC in rebounding at 11.3, which is second all-time for a single season.
Brown led the league in shooting at 63.6 percent, he posted 13 double-doubles, and he had 25 points and 22 rebounds in a triple-overtime win at North Georgia.
Leeder said Brown's biggest attribute was consistency.
"He was good every night out," he said. "He was able to bring it every night. Over the course of a 17-game conference schedule, that is difficult to do. He's not only the best player, but the most consistent player."
Slotter joined the team in late December after sitting out the fall semester and finished seventh in the conference in scoring (15.6), while scoring 20 or more seven times. His 38.8 percent shooting behind the arc was seventh in the conference.
"Hands down he was the best freshman in the league, and there's no question he is one of the top five players in the league," said Leeder. "I think he was voted Third Team only because he was a freshman. He's one of the most talented kids I've ever coached, and he has a tremendous future ahead of him. He's a guy that plays beyond his years, and (coaches) can't believe he's a freshman."
Macon finished in the Top 15 of the conference in scoring (13.3) and rebounding (6.5). He was third in free-throw percentage (85.1) and fifth in 3-point percentage (39.8). Macon had three double-doubles and scored more than 20 four times, including 32 against Clayton State in the opening game of the conference tournament. Macon scored 29 in the second half to lead GSW to an 87-68 win, its first postseason win.
"He came in as a one-year guy (from Troy) and blended in his abilities with what we had," Leeder said. "Being a one-year guy, sometimes they don't necessarily buy into the team concept. The tendency is to focus on yourself. But he's been a pleasure to coach, and he's been a very important piece with his ability to play inside and outside."
USC Aiken's Alvin Brown won the fourth and final PBC award, earning the Defensive Player of the Year honor.