Albertus Men's Basketball's Jaqhawn Walters Again Selected as GNAC Player of the Year


WINTHROP, Mass. – Following a vote by the league's men's basketball coaches, Albertus Magnus College senior forward Jaqhawn Walters has been unanimously selected as the 2018 Great Northeast Athletic Conference Player of the Year, it was announced on Monday morning.

Walters, who laid claim to the same major award last year, enjoyed a banner season for the Falcons, who won the GNAC regular-season title. He was first among GNAC leaders in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 26.5 points and 15.0 boards per game. He was also efficient from the floor, ranking sixth in the league in shooting at 54.8 percent.

A native of Hartford, Conn., Walters topped 30 points eight times, including three 40-point performances, and exceeded 20 rebounds five times. He had 24 double-doubles, including a 22-point, 25-rebound performance in the GNAC Championship game, which saw Albertus fall to Johnson & Wales University in an 84-80 thriller.

Joining Walters on the GNAC First Team were Anna Maria College sophomore Mike Rapoza, JWU junior Brian-Hogan Gary, Lasell College sophomore Stefan Masciarelli, and Saint Joseph's College of Maine junior Darian Berry.

Rapoza, who followed up his 2017 GNAC Rookie of the Year campaign with an incredible sophomore season, was also named the 2018 GNAC Defensive Player of the Year by the league's head coaches.

He ranked second in the GNAC in scoring (18.8), second in rebounding (14.1), first in field-goal percentage (.632), and first in blocks (1.8). Rapoza had 22 double-doubles, and on February 20 was named the USBWA National Player of the Week after a stretch in which he made 26 straight field goals – a new NCAA Division III record – including an 18-of-18 performance against Mount Ida College on Feb. 13.

As for Hogan-Gary, a JUCO transfer from Staten Island, N.Y., he helped put the Wildcats over the top and into the NCAA Tournament with their GNAC Championship this past weekend. The 6-4 versatile guard currently ranks fourth among GNAC leaders in points (17.5), third in rebounds (8.7), third in assists (4.0), and second in steals (2.3), all while shooting 52.6 percent overall.

Masciarelli helped carry the Lasers' scoring torch passed on by 2017 Lasell graduate and GNAC First Teamer Armin Omanovic, ranking third in the conference with 18.2 points per game on 44.6 percent shooting to go along with 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists.

Berry tied for fifth in the GNAC in scoring at an even 17.0 points per contest. He has also been one of the most prolific three-point shooters across the conference in 2017-18, averaging 3.0 three-point makes per game while shooting 41.6 percent from the beyond the arc to go along with 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists. 

Suffolk University 6-4 freshman Brendan Mulson was voted the league's 2018 GNAC Rookie of the Year, as the first-year averaged an impressive 11.8 points and 6.1 rebounds under head coach Jeff Juron. The rookie shot 47.4 percent overall from the field and 39.6 percent from three-point range in helping the Rams reach the GNAC Tournament Semifinals.

Albertus Magnus 11th-year head coach Mitch Oliver was voted the GNAC Coach of the Year by his peers, as the Falcons went 21-6 overall and 15-1 in league play. They led the league in both points (84.3) and rebounding (43.6) per game and got to the free-throw line 179 more times than the next closest GNAC program.

For the complete all-conference and all-sportsmanship selections, please see below. 

First Team
Jaqhawn Walters, Albertus Magnus (Sr., Hartford, Conn.)
Mike Rapoza, Anna Maria (So., Charlton, Mass.)
Brian Hogan-Gary, Johnson & Wales (Jr., Staten Island, N.Y.)
Stefan Masciarelli, Lasell (So., Northbridge, Mass.)
Darian Berry, Saint Joseph's of Maine (Jr., Rochester, N.H.)

Second Team
Jarell Lawson, Johnson & Wales (Sr., Providence, R.I.)
Tim Blair, Lasell (Jr., Newington, Conn.)
Ademola Afonja, Regis (Jr., Staten Island, N.Y.)
Ian Mileikis, Saint Joseph's of Maine (Jr., Auburn, Maine)
Thomas Duffy, Suffolk (So., Fairfield, Conn.)

Third Team
Jahmerikah Green-Younger, Albertus Magnus (So., Norwalk, Conn.)
Amir Maddred, Albertus Magnus (Sr., Camden, N.J.)
Ryan Pittman, Albertus Magnus (Jr., Stratford, Conn.)
Mike Hogervorst, Norwich (Sr., Leiden, South Holland, Netherlands)
Michael Hagopian, Suffolk (Jr., Watertown, Mass.) 

Player of the Year – Jaqhawn Walters, Albertus Magnus (unanimous)
Defensive Player of the Year – Mike Rapoza, Anna Maria
Rookie of the Year – Brendan Mulson, Suffolk
Coach of the Year – Mitch Oliver, Albertus Magnus
Institutional Sportsmanship Award – Suffolk University

All-Sportsmanship Team
Jemaa Mwinila-Yuori, Albertus Magnus (Sr., Ghana)
John Birch, Anna Maria (Sr., Woodbridge, Va.)
Zachary Crisafulli, Emmanuel (Fr., Easthampton, Mass.)
Matt Madoian, Johnson & Wales (Jr., North Kingstown, R.I.)
Derek McMahon, Lasell (Sr., Hatfield, Mass.)
Joey DeFillippi, Mount Ida (Sr., Bristol , Conn.)
Joe Bertrand, Norwich (Sr., Saugus, Mass.)
Shawn Wedderburn, Regis (Mass.) (Jr., Bronx, N.Y.)
Tarik Rivers, Rivier (Fr., Stamford , Conn.)
Tatsuaki Sakai, Saint Joseph's (Maine) (Fr., Ishikawa, Japan)
Cameron Powers, Suffolk (So., Middlefield, Conn.)

Founded in 1995, the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) is an NCAA Division III association made up of 13 member institutions and over 3,000 student-athletes across the New England region. Each year, the GNAC sponsors and administers 20 championships, while balancing academic integrity, athletic opportunities and community involvement.