Former Connersville Spartan star Grant Smith, his 2017 Indiana All-Star teammate Kyle Mangas, three other members of the Indiana Wesleyan University basketball team and their head coach were honored by the Crossroads League on Feb. 28.
Smith, who averages 9.2 points and 3.3 rebounds a game, was named to the Crossroads League All-Freshman team.
The multi-skilled, 6-6 forward also averages 2.5 assists and just under 1 steal for the 26-7 Wildcats, who are rated 4th in NAIA Division II and earned one of the four No. 1 seeds for the upcoming NAIA National Championship Tournament at Sioux City, South Dakota.
Mangas, who leads Indiana Wesleyan in scoring at 21.8 points a game and has racked up 718 points so far, not only earned All-Freshman Team honors but was named Freshman of the Year, 1st Team All-League — and MVP of the Crossroads League.
Mangas is the first freshman in conference history to win the MVP award, according to league officials. The former Warsaw High School star also averages 4.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists.
Six-ten junior Evan Maxwell earned a spot on the All-Crossroads League 2nd Team. Maxwell, a transfer from Kansas, averages 16.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and leads IWU in 3-point shooting at 47 percent.
Jacob Johnson, a 6-6 senior from Mooresville who missed 17 games after sustaining a partially torn meniscus that required surgery, was named All-League 3rd Team. Johnson averages 11.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists.
Former Richmond Red Devils star Joel Okafor was selected to the league’s All-Defensive Team.
Along with leading the Wildcats with 42 steals, a 1.3 per game average, the physical, get-at-‘ya defensively 5-11 junior averages 6.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
Greg Tonagel, now in his 13th season as the Wildcats coach, was named the league’s Coach of the Year.
Indiana Wesleyan won the Crossroads League regular season title (14-4) and the postseason tournament, giving the Wildcats an automatic berth in the NAIA Tourney.
The Wildcats won the NAIA Div. II championship in 2014 and 2016.
Other members of the All-League 1st Team are Bryce Lienhoop (Saint Francis), Paul Marandet (Spring Arbor), Gage Ott (Bethel) and Wes Stowers (Marian).
Smith and Mangas were joined on the All-Freshmen Team by Sterling Brown (Marian), Matt Jennings (Grace) and Jevon Knox (Mount Vernon Nazarene).
Indiana Wesleyan will open play in the 27th annual NAIA Championship Tournament at 1 p.m. on March 8 against No. 8 seed Antelope Valley (Calif.) (20-7).
The Wildcats are the top seed in the tournament’s Cramer Bracket.
The IU East Red Wolves — the No.1-ranked team in NAIA Div. II — are the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed and top seed in the Naismith Bracket.
The Richmond-based school will play 8th-seeded Voorhees (S.C.) (18-10) at 1 p.m. on March 7. IU East, 31-2 overall, finished 17-0 in the River States Conference and has won 25 straight games.
Former Connersville Spartan Charles Peterson averages 8.2 points a game for the Red Wolves. The 6-0 senior is shooting 45 percent from 3-point land.
IU East edged Indiana Wesleyan, 80-79, on Nov. 14 in a game played on the Red Wolves’ Lingle Court.
Smith had 9 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal for the Wildcats. Mangas scored a team-high 19 points.
Bishop Smith came off the bench to score 21 points for IU East. Peterson played 8 minutes and did not score, but pulled down 2 rebounds.
The first 30 games of the tournament can be viewed on the NAIA Network.
The championship game will be broadcast on ESPN3 on March 13.
Union (Ky.) (23-7) is the defending NAIA Div. II champion.
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