Ontario University Athletics announced the 2015-16 men’s basketball major awards and all-stars on Tuesday, with uOttawa’s Mike L’Africain winning the conference Player of the Year award. Caleb Agada also earned a league award as Defensive Player of the Year, while starting centre Nathan McCarthy was named to the OUA second all-star team.
The Player of the Year award for L’Africain comes as a culmination of the fifth-year’s excellent career at point guard for the garnet and grey. After being named the OUA East Rookie of the Year in 2011-12, the Oakville, Ont., native disappeared from the conference all-star announcements until this season despite his integral role in leading the Gee-Gees to historic heights over the past three seasons.
“A coach will always tell a point guard that he is responsible for one thing only and that’s the team winning,” says Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin. “Mike has done that his whole career and because he’s so unselfish, I wasn’t sure that people would recognize how valuable he is on the floor.”
“Realistically, when Caleb went down with the ankle injury [in January] it catapulted Mike into the discussion,” continues Derouin. “Everyone was forced to pay attention to him and he showed that he can dominate a game when he needs to, and he continued his strong play all the way to the end. The stat that I am proudest of for him is the free throws – he got to the line a ton this year [78 times, more than the last three years combined]. That was an area that was weak for him and just like everything else Mike went and worked on it until he fixed it. That’s an amazing thing.”
L’Africain led the Gee-Gees in scoring, averaging 20.4 points per game which ranked him fifth in OUA. He finished second in the league with 101 assists, becoming uOttawa’s all-time career leader in the category. He also finished the season in the top five in several other statistical categories including: three-point field goal percentage (41.8), free throw percentage (85.9) and steals (36).
Joining L’Africain on the all-star team is teammate Caleb Agada (Burlington, Ont.), who is a first-team selection for a second straight season. The fourth-year economics major averaged 15.8 points per game while shooting 52.3 percent. Agada also becomes just the second player in team history to win the Defensive Player of the Year award and first since Dax Dessureault in 2007-08. Agada picked up 2.7 steals and 8.6 rebounds per game to rank third in the OUA in both categories.
“Caleb has built a lot of respect as a defender over his career,” explains Derouin. “He’s an on-the-ball defender, shoots gaps extremely well, and in particular his defensive rebounding as a guard is incredible. He’s always guarding the best perimeter player, and he’s a game-changing defender when he’s on the floor.”
The Gee-Gees will also be represented on the second-team by fourth-year centre Nathan McCarthy (Burlington, Ont.). McCarthy, who is an OUA all-star for the first time in his career, appeared in all 19 games this season for uOttawa and led the conference with 39 blocks. He was also second in the league with a field goal percentage of 60.6.
“Nate’s size, shot-blocking, and overall aggressive play definitely had a biggest impact. He contributed at both ends of the floor and is very well-rounded player which is what I think makes him very worthy of this award.”
For the full OUA announcement of award winners and all-stars visit OUA.ca.