Greensboro, N.C. — Guilford College senior Ben Strong (Chapel Hill, N.C./Chapel Hill) won his second straight South District Player of the Year Award Thursday from the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). He received a similar honor from D3hoops.com on Wednesday.
NABC-member coaches selected and voted on the all-district teams from eight districts. The 88 student-athletes are now eligible for the NABC’s State Farm Division III All-America teams, which will be released Friday.
A 6-11, 220-pound center, Strong earned his second straight Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Kurt Axe Memorial Men’s Basketball Player of the Year Award Feb. 28. Guilford’s first three-time First Team All-ODAC pick, he led the league in scoring (25.8 ppg.), rebounds (10.8 rpg.) and blocked shots (2.21 bpg.). The team co-captain ranks fourth in NCAA Division III in scoring, 14th in rebounds and 19th in blocks through games of March 16. Strong was one of 10 finalists for the prestigious Jostens Trophy, awarded annually by the Salem (Va.) Rotary Club to Division III student-athletes who display outstanding achievement in basketball, academics and community service. He won a school-record five ODAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Week awards this season and 13 of the weekly honors in his career. His career-high 21 double-doubles and 23 20-point games this year led the league. Strong scored a season-high 39 points versus Eastern Mennonite University and Emory & Henry College, two of his league-best nine 30-point games this year. The Most Outstanding Player of the 2008 ODAC Tournament, he averaged 25.9 points and 10.1 rebounds in 18 league contests.
Strong broke his own Guilford Division III scoring record this year with 747 points, passed the 2,000 career-points mark and holds second place on the Quakers’ all-time scoring list with 2,241 points in 112 games. He passed the likes of former NBA stars M.L. Carr ’73 and World B. Free ’76 on his climb up the Quakers’ scoring chart and trails only former NBA player Bob Kauffman’s ’68 2,570 points. Strong stands seventh among Guilford’s career rebounders (929) and second in blocks (236). He also ranks among the Quakers’ all-time leaders in scoring average (20.0 ppg., 5th), field-goal percentage (.566, 7th), free throws (521, 3rd), free-throw attempts (609, 4th) and games played (112, 5th). Strong holds ODAC career marks for free throws, free-throw attempts and blocks.
Strong captured NABC NCAA Division III Co-Player of the Year honors last season and won D3hoops.com’s National Player of the Year prize after averaging 25.4 points and 11.2 boards per game in Guilford’s 24-5 campaign. Strong set NCAA Division III Tournament, ODAC and school scoring records with 59 points in last year’s triple-overtime win over Lincoln (Pa.) University in a third-round NCAA game.
Coach Tom Palombo’s Quakers finished the season with a 24-5 overall record, 16-2 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC). Guilford won the ODAC regular-season and tournament titles for the first time in school history and reached the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season. The Quakers hosted first-and second-round NCAA playoff games, but ended the year with a first-round loss to St. Mary’s College of Maryland, 89-77. The Quakers return 11 letter winners from this year’s team in 2008-09.