Saunders Named Ivy League Player of the Year; Six Crimson Picked All-Ivy League
Saunders was named Ivy League Player of the Year to headline six all-conference honors (Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – After securing the program's fourth consecutive Ivy League championship and earning a third straight trip to the NCAA tournament, the Harvard men's basketball team has been rewarded with six All-Ivy League selections, including player of the year honors for Wesley Saunders.
Saunders becomes just the third member of the Crimson to earn the conference's top award, joining 2011 recipient Keith Wright '12 and 1984 honoree Joe Carrabino '84-85. Saunders, who was unanimously voted to the All-Ivy League first team for a second consecutive year, was recognized along with second team selections Siyani Chambers, Steve Moundou-Missi and Laurent Rivard, and honorable mention picks Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry.
Harvard's six All-Ivy League honors matches the 1994-95 Penn team for most all-conference honors in Ancient Eight history. The total surpasses Harvard's previous record of four set by the 2011-12 and 2012-13 squads.
Saunders, who has been named to both the United States Basketball Writers Association All-District I and National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District 13 teams, was named player of the year after stuffing the stat sheet on both ends of the floor. The junior finished the regular season ranked eighth in the conference in scoring (14.0), third in assists (3.9) and first in steals (1.7), and also ranked in the top 10 in field goal percentage (46.6), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7), blocked shots (0.8) and minutes (33.7). He was named Ivy League Player of the Week three times, and earned MVP honors at the Great Alaska Shootout after leading the Crimson to the title.
Saunders has turned in five 20-point performances on the year and led the team in scoring 10 times. He has also led the team in assists nine times and in rebounding on six occasions. Some of his best work this season came on the defensive end, where each night he was tasked with defending the opposition's top perimeter player. Harvard's defensive numbers have reflected his efforts, as the Crimson rank 13th in the NCAA in scoring defense (60.5) and have put up the lowest opponent shooting percentage (40.7) and three-point percentage (32.0) in head coach Tommy Amaker's seven years.
Chambers, who last season became the first freshman in Ancient Eight history to earn inclusion on the conference's top squad, received All-Ivy honors for the second consecutive year. Chambers was the floor general for the Ivy League's highest scoring offense (73.6), averaging 11.1 ppg while ranking second in the conference in assists (4.7) and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.1). Under his direction the Crimson also led the league in field goal percentage (46.7) and three-point percentage (38.7), and outscored opponents by 13.1 ppg.
Chambers enjoyed three 20-point performances on the year, including Dec. 21 when he went for a career-high 27 points against Vermont. The sophomore was on fire from the floor, connecting on 9-of-10 attempts while going a perfect 6-of-6 from beyond-the-arc to equal the program record for most three-pointers in a game without a miss. Chambers, who was named player of the week three times and earned selection to the Great Alaska Shootout All-Tournament team, also turned in five or more assists on 14 occasions with Harvard going a perfect 14-0 in those games.
Moundou-Missi was named to the second team for the first time in his career after earning honorable mention recognition last season. The reigning Ivy League Player of the Week and Great Alaska Shootout All-Tournament pick ranked fourth in the conference in field goal percentage (54.4) and was ninth in free throw percentage (78.8), as he averaged a career-high 10.5 ppg to go with a personal-best 5.8 rpg. Moundou-Missi finished with four 20-point outings and led the team on the glass in 10 games.
Moundou-Missi saved his best play for the conference schedule, averaging 12.6 ppg and 5.9 rpg in the Ancient Eight while shooting 62.2 percent from the field. He recorded his first career double-double in the team's win at Princeton with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and capped the regular season off with a 21-point, 11-rebound performance at Brown in the finale.
Rivard, an honorable mention pick last year, averaged 10.0 ppg and shot a career-high 42.6 percent from three-point range to earn a second team nod. With 282 career three's, he will graduate as the program's all-time leader in triples and ranks second in Ivy League annals. Rivard also eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau and currently ranks 12th in program history (1,252), and has become the school's all-time leader in games played (121).
The senior co-captain was scorching hot from long range against the Ivy League, shooting at a 48.3 percent clip while averaging 3.1 three-pointers per game. Rivard made at least five three's in a game five times this season, including in his final game at Lavietes Pavilion when he shot 6-of-8 for 21 points to help the Crimson secure at least a share of the Ancient Eight title.
Casey earned his fourth consecutive All-Ivy honor after being named to the first team in 2011-12, second team in 2010-11 and honorable mention in 2009-10. Earlier this season he became just the fourth student-athlete in program history to notch 1,000 career points (1,234), 600 rebounds (646) and 100 blocks (125), and ranks 14th all-time in points, 10th in rebounds and third in blocks. Casey finished the regular season averaging 10.0 ppg while ranking sixth in the conference in rebounds and fourth in blocked shots (1.2).
A native of Medway, Mass., Casey led the Crimson with four double-doubles on the year, including a 19-point, 12-rebound effort in the team's overtime win at Boston University. Casey led the team in rebounding 10 times, and scored in double-digits on 18 occasions.
Curry, a two-time second team selection, earned all-conference honors for the third time despite missing nine of the team's first 11 games with an Achilles injury. The senior co-captain matched his career-high of 9.3 ppg while dishing out 3.0 apg, scoring in double-digits nine times and handing out at least five dimes six times. Curry was instrumental to the team's victory at Princeton with 17 points, and scored 14 points in the team's win at Yale to secure the Ivy League title outright.
Curry currently ranks fourth in program history with 487 career assists.
Harvard's season will continue in the NCAA tournament after capturing its fourth straight Ivy League championship and earning a third consecutive trip to March Madness. The Crimson has invited all members of the Harvard community to join the team for a viewing party in the Murr Center's Hall of History this Sunday, March 16, to watch as the tournament bracket is revealed during the CBS Selection Show at 6 p.m.