ATLANTA-Coming off another remarkable season that ended with a trip to the NCAA tournament, the honors continue to pour in for members of the Georgia State men’s basketball team.
On Friday, head coach Ron Hunter was named a finalist for the Ben Jobe Award, while sophomore D’Marcus Simonds was named to the Lou Henson All-America team and is now a finalist for the Lou Henson Award.
The Ben Jobe Award is presented annually to the top minority coach in NCAA Division I men’s basketball. Coach Jobe is best known as the head coach of the Southern University, a position he held for 12 seasons. He has also the head coach at Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Talladega, Tuskegee and South Carolina State.
The finalists for the Ben Jobe Award include Tommy Amaker (Harvard), Kevin Baggett (Rider), Mike Boynton (Oklahoma State), Travis DeCuire (Montana), Earl Grant (Charleston), Ron Hunter (Georgia State), Donte’ Jackson (Grambling), Mike Jones (Radford), LaVall Jordan (Butler), Edward Joyner (Hampton), Bashir Mason (Wagner), Rob Murphy (Eastern Michigan), Kelvin Sampson (Houston), Damon Stoudamire (Pacific), Dedrique Taylor (Fullerton) and Reggie Witherspoon (Canisius).
Hunter led the Panthers to a 24-11 record this past season and a second trip to the NCAA tournament in the last four years. Now in his seventh year, Hunter is responsible for three of the four winningest seasons in program history and two of the four trips to the Big Dance.
The recipient of the 2018 Ben Jobe National Coach of the Year award will be announced on April 2 in San Antonio.
Simonds has already earned AP All-America Honorable Mention and NABC District 24 First Team honors this postseason.
In the NCAA tournament, Simonds scored the first 16 Georgia State points of the game against No. 2-seed Cincinnati. The Panthers led midway through the second half of the first round game before falling to the Bearcats.
Simonds earned Sun Belt Player of the Year honors along with All-Sun Belt First Team honors just a year after garnering the league’s freshman of the year award. He was also named the Sun Belt Conference Tournament MVP after scoring 27 points to lead the Panthers to a second conference title in the last four years.
Simonds finished the year averaging a school-record 21.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. He ranked among the top 25 in the country in scoring and was one of just eight players ranked in the top 25 in the NCAA in points per game to make the NCAA tournament. He shattered R.J. Hunter’s single-season school record of 688 points and Ryan Harrow’s single-season school record for made field goals.
Despite being just a sophomore, he currently stands No. 15 on Georgia State’s career scoring list with 1,133 points.
The Lou Henson Award is presented annually to the nation's top Division I mid-major player. It will be handed out on Monday in San Antonio site of this year’s NCAA Final Four. Lou Henson coached 41 years. When he left the game in 2005 he was sixth all-time in career Division I wins with 779. He is the winningest coach at both Illinois and New Mexico State. He is one of only 12 coaches in the history of the game to take two schools to the Final Four.