LEWISBURG, Pa. – Senior forward Zach Thomas earned 2018 Patriot League Player of the Year honors, and Bucknell became the first team in league history to garner three First Team All-Patriot League selections with fellow seniors Stephen Brown and Nana Foulland joining Thomas, the league office announced Monday.
The major awards in @PL_MBB were announced today. Check them out on this special PLN Studio awards show as @Bucknell_MBB, @HCrossMBB, @LafayetteMBB and @ColgateMBB all win big honors. @WatchStadium @NCAA pic.twitter.com/wZBgIKyUX5— Patriot League Network | PatriotLeague.tv (@PatriotLeagueTV) February 26, 2018
Bucknell was rewarded in the postseason voting after finishing 16-2 in Patriot League play and winning the regular-season title by four games. In addition to the three first-team all-stars, Brown and Foulland were both named to the Patriot League All-Defensive Team. It is Brown’s third straight all-defensive honor and the second straight for Foulland.
This record-setting senior class has now combined for eight all-conference citations and two Player of the Year Awards. Brown and Foulland become three-time all-stars. Brown moved up from Third Team All-Patriot League as a sophomore, to Second Team last season, to First Team this year. Foulland, who was the Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year last season, was a Second Team pick as a sophomore and a First Team choice in each of the last two seasons. Thomas is now a two-time First Team selection while becoming the fifth Bison in the last eight years to earn the Player of the Year Award.
Brown, Foulland and Thomas comprise a senior class that is also the first in league history to win four straight regular-season championships. They are 84-47 overall and 55-14 against Patriot League opponents thus far, and they have combined for 4,605 points in their careers.
Thomas earns Player of the Year honors after finishing the regular season as the Patriot League leader in in scoring (21.0) and rebounding (9.1). Thomas is one of five players in the country leading his league in both of those categories, and he ranks No. 1 in the nation in free-throw attempts with 277.
Thomas had 31 points and 16 rebounds on opening night at Monmouth, and he has not stopped ever since. He has tied school records with four 30-point games and 16 20-point games this season. He has scored in double figures in all but one game and has 13 double-doubles.
Among his other eye-popping games are a 38-point, 11-rebound, seven-assist gem in a win at Stony Brook; a 19-rebound game at Saint Joseph’s; a 20-point second half (27 overall) to lead a big comeback on the road at Richmond; a 32-point, 11-rebound, five-steal effort in a rally from 19 down in a win over Army; and a 36-point, 13-rebound game at Lehigh.
Thomas has used his strength and craftiness to get the free throw line more often than any Division I player this season. He has attempted 10 or more foul shots 12 times this season, including a school-record 19-for-22 performance against Siena. Thomas has broken team records for free throws made (214) and attempted in a season.
In Saturday’s win at American in the regular-season finale, Thomas scored 16 points and broke Mike Muscala’s school record for points in a season (637). Thomas now has 651, as he looks to become the eighth player in school history and the first in 24 years to average 20 points in a season. He now ranks fifth in Bucknell annals with 1,673 career points, even though he did not become a rotation player until the second half of his freshman year and a full-time starter until his junior campaign.
Brown has also enjoyed a sensational senior year. He has long been one of the top assist men and defenders in the Patriot League, but in 2017-18 he has also become one of the league’s top scorers. His average of 15.4 points per game in league play ranks sixth in the PL, and his 14.3 overall scoring average ranks 11th. He is also third in the league in assists per game (4.3) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3).
Brown has scored in double digits in 17 straight games and 27 of 31 this season. That includes a career-high seven 20-point games. The two highest-scoring games of his career both came in wins over Navy – 27 in Annapolis on Jan. 24 and 25 at home last week.
Brown’s 1,225 career points rank 20th in Bucknell history, and in Saturday’s win at American he moved past Pat Flannery into third place on the career assists chart with 508.
Foulland has to deal with constant double teams whenever he touches the ball in the low post, but he has still managed another First Team All-Patriot League season. He is averaging a career-best 15.6 points per game while shooting 60.3 percent from the field. He also grabs 6.9 rebounds and blocks 1.7 shots per game.
Foulland, who scored a career-high 30 points in a win over La Salle, ranks fourth in school history with 1,707 career points. That is also the highest total in the nation among all active centers. He also ranks third in school history in career blocked shots (205), third in field-goal percentage (.583) and fifth in rebounds (877).
With the exception of back-to-back eight-point games in wins over Boston University and Army, Foulland has scored in double figures in every other game this season and has eight double-doubles and seven 20-point games.
The trio of Bison seniors are joined on the All-Patriot League First Team by Loyola’s Andre Walker and Navy’s Shawn Anderson. All five first-teamers are seniors.
The Second Team is comprised of Lehigh’s Kahron Ross and Lance Tejada, American’s Sa’eed Nelson, Colgate’s Will Rayman, and Lafayette’s Matt Klinewski.
Third Team honorees are Colgate’s Sean O’Brien and Jordan Swopshire, Boston University’s Max Mahoney, Holy Cross’ Jehyve Floyd, and Lafayette’s Alex Petrie.
Petrie was picked as the Rookie of the Year, while Floyd is the Defensive Player of the Year. Colgate’s Matt Langel is the Coach of the Year.
Joining Foulland and Brown on the All-Defensive Team are Floyd, Andrew Kostecka of Loyola, and Bryce Dulin of Navy.
Bucknell will begin Patriot League Tournament play in the quarterfinal round on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Sojka Pavilion. The top-seeded Bison will take on the winner of the first-round game between No. 8 Loyola and No. 9 Army West Point. The game will be televised on Stadium TV and will stream on the Patriot League Network at PatriotLeague.tv.