Mar 6, 2013 11:32 AM by UL Sports Information
With the start of the 2013 Sun Belt Conference men's basketball championship just days away, Ragin' Cajuns basketball players Elfrid Payton and Shawn Long were each the recipient of Sun Belt Conference basketball awards. The league office announced the all-league team on Wednesday morning.
Payton, a sophomore point guard, was named to the All-Sun Belt Conference first team while Long was tabbed as the SBC Freshman of the Year and was selected for the all-league second team.
"This is a great way to start championship week," Louisiana head coach Bob Marlin said. "Elfrid and Shawn have played such important roles in the development of our team this year and I am happy that they are being recognized for their success."
Payton, a 6-2, 170-pound point guard from Gretna, La., has had a breakout year, averaging 15.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.5 steals per game to be the only player in the country to average 15 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals per game this year.
Payton leads the league in both steals and assists, ranking 12th nationally in steals and 38th in assists. He is also tied with Long for fourth in the league in scoring and is 18th in rebounds.
A starter in all 31 games, Payton ranks third in school history with 76 steals this year while his 168 assists are seventh-best. With two full seasons to play, he already ranks 19th all-time with 113 steals and 21st with 265 assists.
Payton is the first Cajuns player to receive first team All-Sun Belt honors since Tyren Johnson earned the honor in 2009-10.
"Elfrid set the tone for this season by playing his best game as a freshman against North Texas in the league tourney," Marlin said. "He came back a different player, showing great leadership skills on the court and being one of the best overall players in the Sun Belt."
Long, a 6-9, 243-pound forward from Morgan City, La., has been the dominant big man inside this year for the Cajuns, averaging 15.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. He ranks 14th nationally and second in the Sun Belt in rebounding and is fourth in the league and 57th in the nation in blocked shots.
With 319 rebounds Long ranks sixth on the Louisiana single season list, while his 63 blocked shots are also sixth-best.
Long ranks fifth in the nation with 17 double-doubles and has scored 20 points or more in a game nine times. He leads all freshmen in the nation in rebounding and is ninth among freshmen in both scoring and blocks.
"We asked an awful lot from Shawn heading into this season and he repeatedly came through for us," Marlin said. "As impressive as his numbers are this year, I don't think that he has scratched the surface of his true potential. I look forward to watching him develop over the next three years."
Payton, Long and the Cajuns open Sun Belt championship play on Friday (March 8) against North Texas at 6:30 p.m. on the Convention Center Court in Hot Springs, Ark.
2012-13 All-Sun Belt Conference Basketball
Player of the Year
Augustine Rubit, South Alabama
Defensive Player of the Year
Bruce Massey, Middle Tennessee
Freshman of the Year
Shawn Long, Louisiana
Coach of the Year
Kermit Davis, Middle Tennessee
First Team All-Sun Belt Conference
Greg Gantt (Florida Atlantic, Sr., Guard)
Tymell Murphy (FIU, Jr., Forward)
Elfrid Payton (Louisiana, So., Guard)
Marcos Knight (Middle Tennessee, Sr., Guard)
Augustine Rubit (South Alabama, Jr., Forward)
Second Team All-Sun Belt Conference
Brandon Peterson (Arkansas State, Sr., Forward)
Stefan Moody (Florida Atlantic, Fr., Guard)
Shawn Long (Louisiana, Fr., Forward)
Tony Mitchell (North Texas, So., Forward)
T.J. Price (WKU, So., Guard)
Third Team All-Sun Belt Conference
Will Neighbour (UALR, Jr., Forward)
Trey Finn (Arkansas State, Sr., Guard)
Raymond Cintron (Middle Tennessee, Sr., Guard)
Bruce Massey (Middle Tennessee, Sr., Guard)
George Fant (WKU, So., Forward)