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McKay Voted Big South Coach of the Year, Dawson and Kemrite Earn Honors

March 1, 2016  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Ritchie McKay

Ritchie McKay

After leading the Flames to a top five seed in the 2016 Big South Championship, Liberty men's basketball head coach Ritchie McKay has been voted the Big South Coach of the Year by the league's head coaches and media panel. The announcement was made this afternoon by the conference office.

Along with McKay, redshirt sophomore guard John Dawson earned all-conference honorable mention. Redshirt sophomore guard/forward Ryan Kemrite rounded out Liberty's honorees, receiving a spot on the conference's all-academic team.

McKay returned to Liberty on April 1, 2015 after spending six seasons as an associate head at Virginia. Despite being predicted to finish 11th in the Big South Preseason Poll, the Flames clinched the No. 5 seed and a first round bye in the 2016 Big South Championship, finishing 10-8 in conference play. Liberty's win total marks the first time the program has garnered 10 Big South victories since the 2010-11 season, when the Flames set a program record with 13 conference wins.

This year, Liberty's Big South slate was highlighted by a seven-game win streak in games played Jan.19-Feb.13, marking the fourth longest streak in program history. During the span, the Flames earned two wins over preseason favorite and current No. 1 seed High Point, as well as an 88-77 victory over No. 2 seed Winthrop (Feb. 2). This past Saturday, Liberty clinched a top five seed in this week's Big South Championship with an 86-81 win over Gardner-Webb, tying a program record with 17 three-pointers. The Flames enter postseason play second in the conference in scoring defense, holding opponents to 68.0 ppg.

After sitting out the first 11 games due to the NCAA transfer rule, Dawson burst onto the scene, debuting with a 15-point performance at Princeton. In 20 games, Dawson averaged 13.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. The Clovis, N.M. native was instrumental in helping the Flames pick up their first road win in nearly two years on Jan. 6. With 14 seconds left, Dawson knocked down a clutch three-pointer to seal the 62-61 win over Coastal Carolina inside The HTC Center. On Jan. 23, Dawson displayed late-game heroics again, connecting on a layup with two ticks left to give the Flames a 69-67 win over High Point.

Dawson played a key role in Liberty's win over then first place Winthrop, scoring 20 points in the victory. On Feb. 18, he netted a career-high 22 tallies in a meeting with the Radford Highlanders. In conference contests, Dawson finished 13th in scoring (13.8 ppg) and fourth in defensive rebounds (5.4 rpg).

A business major and Big South Presidential Honor Roll member, Kemrite currently holds a 3.373 cumulative grade point average. On the court, the redshirt sophomore has started 27 contests, averaging 8.5 points and four rebounds per game.

On Nov. 14, Kemrite posted a career-high 22 points in a 90-52 victory over Summit. The guard later had a 17-point showing in the Flames' contest at VCU (Dec. 27). Kemrite was a big factor in Liberty's 69-55 road win at Gardner-Webb, earning his first collegiate double-double with a 14-point, 10-rebound effort. Kemrite's 10 boards marked a career-high for the Conroe, Texas native.

2015-16 Men's Basketball All-Conference
First-Team All-Conference
John Brown, F, R-Sr., High Point
Keon Johnson, G, Jr., Winthrop
DeSean Murray, F, Soph., Presbyterian College
Jimmy Gavin, G, Gr., Winthrop
Lotanna Nwogbo, F/C, R-Sr., Longwood

Second-Team All-Conference
Xavier Cooks, F, Soph., Winthrop
Rashun Davis, G, Sr., Radford
Adam Weary, G, Sr., High Point
Tyrell Nelson, F, Jr., Gardner-Webb
Chris Clemons, G, Fr., Campbell

Honorable Mention All-Conference
Shivaughn Wiggins, G, R-Jr., Coastal Carolina
John Dawson, G, R-Soph., Liberty
Cameron Jones, G, Sr., Radford
Elijah Wilson, G, Jr., Coastal Carolina
Dylan Smith, G, Fr., UNC Asheville

All-Freshman Team
Chris Clemons, G, Fr., Campbell
Dylan Smith, G, Fr., UNC Asheville
Dwayne Sutton, G, Fr., UNC Asheville
Armel Potter, G, Fr., Charleston Southern
Ed Polite Jr., F, Fr., Radford

All-Academic Team
Jacob Talbert, G, Jr., Campbell
Patrick Wallace, G, Jr., Charleston Southern
Tristian Curtis, F, Sr., Coastal Carolina
Tyrell Nelson, F, Jr., Gardner-Webb
Austin White, G, Soph., High Point
Ryan Kemrite, G, R-Soph., Liberty
Charlie Inclan, G, Jr., Presbyterian College
Justin Cousin, G, R-Soph., Radford
Kevin Vannatta, G, Soph., UNC Asheville

Player of the Year
John Brown, F, R-Sr., High Point

Freshman of the Year
Chris Clemons, G, Fr., Campbell

Defensive Player of the Year
John Brown, F, R-Sr., High Point

Coach of the Year
Ritchie McKay, Liberty

Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Tristian Curtis, F, Sr., Coastal Carolina