Sam Toney Voted New Jersey Athletic Conference Player of the Year

Sam Toney Voted New Jersey Athletic Conference Player of the Year

Lavrone Green Named Second-Team All-NJAC

From the opening tip in November, it was clear that New Jersey City University power forward Sam Toney was going to follow a breakout rookie campaign with a special sophomore season. After emerging as one of the top players in NCAA Division III men's basketball this season, Toney has been voted the 2018 New Jersey Athletic Conference "Pony Wilson" Men's Basketball Player of the Year in selections made by a vote of the league's 10 head coaches announced on February 21.

Additionally, Toney was voted First-Team All-NJAC-his second straight All-Conference accolade-and junior shooting guard Lavrone Green was tabbed Second-Team All-NJAC in his first season in a Gothic Knight uniform.

Behind Toney and Green, NJCU is 19-7 (13-5 NJAC), was ranked No. 1 in the Atlantic Region in the first two polls this month, reached the Top 25 poll in four weeks in the first half of the season including an all-time high of 17th on December 18, and received votes in the first 12 polls cast this year. The Gothic Knights will learn their NCAA Tournament fate when the bracket is announced on February 26.

Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown)
Toney is just the third sophomore named NJAC Men's Basketball Player of the Year in NJAC history (1999, Horace Jenkins, William Paterson; 2013, Teon Russell, Rutgers-Camden). Furthermore, he is the first player in the history of the NJAC to be Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year in consecutive seasons.

"Sam has really earned this award," complimented head coach Marc Brown. "He has had an unbelievable season and I am looking forward to being a part of his further growth as a player. He has established himself as one of the dominant players in the league through hard work. It is always nice to see someone work really hard and to see the results of the work that has been put in on a daily basis. He is always looking to improve and has a great attitude."

Toney, who earlier this week advanced to the 2017-18 Small College Basketball Bevo Francis Top 50 Watchlist after initially debuting on the Top 100 list, is one of just four sophomores on the Top 50-including one of only two in Division III. Additionally, he is one of only 10 Division III players to reach the Top 50.

Toney is the fifth NJCU men's player to be voted NJAC Player of the Year and the first since Samar Battle in 2003-04. He is just the third Gothic Knight to win the award outright. Past winners include Gregory Rucker, 1981-82; Steve Wilder, 1985-86 (co-player); Del Harrison, 1989-90 (co-player) and Battle, 2003-04.

A three-time NJAC Player of the Week (weeks 3, 8, 9), three-time Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association (MBWA) Division II-III Player of the Week and a two-time Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Metro Player of the Week, Toney led the NJAC in scoring and rebounding in both overall and conference-only action.

Additional honors include being selected to the MBWA Honor Roll five times and the National Team of the Week on December 4. He was Most Valuable Player of the Rose City Classic in November. He is the first sophomore co-captain since all-time greats Andrew Kemp and Eric Moore back in 1977-78-40 years ago.

Toney has produced five efforts of 30+ points this season, including a career-high 42 points in a last-second loss at Ramapo on January 13. The 42 points are a school record for a road game, the fourth most ever scored in any game in the 85-year history of the program and the highest tally in any game since February 1981. He is the only player in school history to score more than 35 points in a game three times and the only player ever to do it at least twice in the same season.

"This award means a lot to me," Toney said. "First, I want to give thanks to God and to the support system that I have-from school to home. Without them, I wouldn't be in the position I am today. It means a lot to me. I definitely put the work in and try to strive to be the best player I can be on and off the court. It just goes to show what I am capable of doing. I just try to do the best I can do basketball-wise and academically, to show I can compete and go to school at a high level."

Overall, through 26 games including the NJAC Tournament. Toney averaged 20.4, 9.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.9 blocks while shooting 47.8 percent from the field (183-383), 37.1 percent from three-point range (59-159) and 82.7 percent from the line (105-127). Overall, he produced 530 points, 251 rebounds, 50 assists, 31 steals and 24 blocks. He averaged 31.0 minutes (806) per game.

He easily leads the NJAC in scoring (+1.6 margin), rebounding (+1.3 margin), and defensive rebounding (7.7 per game, +1.2 margin) and ranks in the Top 10 in 10 categories. He is fifth in three-point percentage, fifth in three-pointers made (2.3 per game), fifth in blocked shots, fifth in offensive rebounds (2.0 per game), sixth in free throw percentage, ninth in field goal percentage, 10th in minutes (31.0), 17th in steals, and 28th in assists.

Even more dominant in the 18 league games, Toney averaged 21.9 points and 11.1 rebounds in conference play, tallying 394 points and 199 rebounds with 33 assists, 19 steals and 14 blocks. He shot .488 in the NJAC (137-281), .396 from three (42-106) and a sizzling .857 from the line (78-91).

His 21.9 points per game was more than 2.2 per game over any other player and his 11.1 rebounds was a staggering 2.5 per game more than the next closest player. He was in the Top 5 in five categories and Top 10 in 10 areas. He also ranked first in defensive rebounding (8.6 per game, +2.2 margin), third in offensive rebounding, fourth in free throw percentage, sixth in threes per game (2.3), seventh in field goal percentage, eighth in blocked shots (0.8 per game) and minutes (32.6), 10th in three-point percentage, 24th in steals, and 30th in assists (1.8).

Furthermore, his inspirational life story of overcoming the foster-care system and homelessness as a young adult has begun to reach national audiences in stories produced by The Asbury Park Press/Gannett Newspapers, The Jersey Journal/ and a recent NJCU video.

Toney has 11 double-doubles this season and 16 in his career. He scored in double figures in 23 of 26 games and has netted double figures 42 times in 55 career games. He has scored 885 career points. Toney scored at least 20 points in a game 13 time in 26 games this season and 16 times in his career. Toney ranks among the NCAA Division III leaders in 13 different statistical categories.

Toney followed up a tremendous freshman campaign. An eight-time NJAC Rookie of the Week in 16 weeks last year, he was the clear-cut choice as the NJAC Rookie of the Year. Toney later was voted the Atlantic Region Rookie of the Year, the ECAC Metro Rookie of the Year and was cited by D-III News as one of 10 newcomers in the entire country, named to the national All-Freshman Team.


Lavrone Green (Teaneck, NJ/Teaneck):

Green got another opportunity to show what he's capable of and after a college basketball journey that started at Montclair State when he was a four-time NJAC Rookie of the Week in the 2014-15 season when he was among the top freshmen in the league, where he averaged 14.7 points. After missing the 2015-16 season with an injury, he moved to Ramapo College where he played just 51 minutes in 14 games last year before transferring this year to NJCU. The third time was the charm.

On December 18, Green was voted the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Division (USBWA) Division III National Player of the Week-the first-ever NJCU player to win the award-after he produced a career-high 34 points at GNAC conference leader Albertus Magnus (December 16) including a buzzer-beating game-winning three pointer.

Green's standout junior season saw him reach double figures in scoring 20 times in 26 games as a Gothic Knight. For Green, he now has 37 double-digit scoring effort in his collegiate career. He scored 20 or more points three times this season.

A one-time MBWA Division II/III co-Player of the Week and one-time ECAC Division III Metro Player of the Week, he also secured NJAC Player of the Week honors.

"I am sure this has to be satisfying for Lavrone," said Brown. "He has had an up-and-down career in the NJAC and we have provided some stability for him here at NJCU. Well-deserved recognition for a guy who has put in the work."

For the season, Green started every game except Senior Day and in his 26 games averaged 14.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.5 blocks while shooting 42.2 percent from the field (127-301), 37.3 percent from three-point distance (47-126) and 81.4 percent from the stripe (70-86). He made 26-of-28 from the line to since late January. He had 371 points, 56 rebounds, 53 assists, 16 steals and 13 blocks in 29.3 minutes per game (761 total). Green now has 752 total points as a collegiate player.

He currently ranks eighth in the NJAC in scoring. Additionally, he lists seventh in free throw percentage, 12th in threes made (1.8 per game), 17th in three-point percentage, 19th in blocks and 26th in field goal percentage.

In the league, Green collected 13.7 points and 2.2 rebounds with 246 points, 40 rebounds, 33 assists, 10 steals and eight blocks in 28.5 minutes per night (513 total) while shooting .423 from the field (85-201), .378 from deep (31-82) and .833 at the line (45-54). In NJAC-only action he ranked sixth in three throw percentage, 14th in scoring and threes made (1.7 per game), 15th in three-point percentage, 22nd in field goal percentage, 23rd in blocks (0.4 per game) and 30th in assists.