Jalen Tot of MSU Billings is Great Northwest Athletic Conference men's player of the year

Jalen Tot
Posted at 3:48 PM, Mar 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-06 17:48:58-05

(Editor's note: Great Northwest Athletic Conference release.)

PORTLAND, Ore. — he 2023-24 campaign has been a historic one for the Montana State Billings men’s basketball team, as it resulted in the first-ever Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular-season title for the Yellowjackets.

That history carried over into the all-conference team, released Wednesday, as MSUB became the first men's basketball school since the league was founded to take home four major awards.

Headlining the list was 2023-24 GNAC Player of the Year Jalen Tot, who became the second Yellowjacket to win the honor after Carrington Wiggins claimed the title last season. MSUB also became the third school in GNAC history to win the league’s top award in back-to-back seasons, and the first to do so with two different players claiming it.

Steven Richardson was voted GNAC Defensive Player of the Year, giving MSUB back-to-back wins in that award after Bilal Shabazz claimed it in 2022-23. Daniel Moody became the fourth Yellowjacket to win the GNAC Newcomer of the Year award, tying Central Washington for the most all-time winners of that honor.

Luke Fennelly became the fourth man in GNAC history to win Coach of the Year in his first season, after piloting the Yellowjackets throughout their championship campaign.

Tijan Saine of Western Washington was named the GNAC Freshman of the Year after averaging 10.9 points and shooting 41.1 percent for the Vikings.

Pacing the Yellowjackets to a 20-8 record, Tot ranked seventh in the league in scoring with 15.4 points per game, sixth in assists with 3.3 per game, fifth in steals with 1.5 per game and he led the league with a 3-point field-goal percentage of 45.0.

The second-year Yellowjacket scored a career-high 32 points on Dec. 18 vs. Rollins and had a season-high seven assists in the Yellowjackets’ 88-83 road win over Western Washington on Feb. 10.

Moody joined Tot on the first team, after ranking third in the GNAC with 8.2 rebounds per game and 11th in the league with 14.4 points per game. Moody recorded one of the league’s two triple-doubles this season, achieving the feat with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the Yellowjackets’ 97-84 win over Western Washington on Jan. 11.

Moody reached double figures in scoring in all but four games this season, while cashing in eight double-doubles and shooting 49.0% overall from the floor.

The conference’s leading scorer also garnered a first-team nod, with Western Washington’s Kai Johnson earning his second-career all-conference accolade. Johnson led the GNAC with 21.6 points per game during the regular season, a figure that ranked No. 12 in Division II.

Johnson’s 627 points scored during the season were fourth-most in WWU single-season history, and he surpassed 1,000 career points to break into WWU’s top-20 all-time scoring list with one season of eligibility remaining.

Seattle Pacific star Shaw Anderson was another premier scorer to earn first team, as he ranked second in the league with 21.0 points per game. Anderson earned all-conference for the fourth time, after being a first-team pick last year, a second-team pick in 2019-20 and an honorable mention selection in 2021-22.

Anderson broke the SPU career scoring record on the final weekend of the regular season, and he enters the Falcons’ GNAC Championships quarterfinal game on Thursday (7:30 p.m. PT) ranked No. 5 in GNAC history with 1,959 points scored.

The lone player in the GNAC to be featured on the Bevo Francis watch list, Saint Martin’s senior Kyle Greeley was a unanimous first-team selection for the second straight season.

One of the league’s top all-around players, Greeley ranked third in scoring with 16.3 points per game, sixth in rebounding with 6.9 boards per game and held the league’s seventh-best assist-turnover ratio at plus-2.4.

Greeley led the Saints to a third-place finish, earning them a matchup against Alaska Anchorage on Thursday at 5:15 p.m. Pacific in the quarterfinal round of the conference tournament.

Squaring off against Greeley and the Saints in that game will be another first-team selection in UAA’s Tyson Gilbert. Scoring at a clip of 14.9 points per game and rarely turning the ball over, the senior led the Seawolves into the postseason starting all 29 games.

Gilbert ranked third in the GNAC with 1.9 steals per game and fourth in the league with an assist-turnover ratio of plus-2.7.

MSUB’s five total all-conference team representatives were the most in the league, with senior Zharon Richmond joining the aforementioned quartet as an honorable mention selection.

The Northwest Nazarene trio of Gabriel Murphy, Ryzin Bergersen and Tru Allen comprised half of the second team, after helping the Nighthawks earn a first-round bye in the tournament by finishing in second place in the GNAC standings at 17-9 overall and 13-5 in league play.

Central Washington’s Samaad Hector, Alaska’s Abdullahi Mohamed and Saint Martin’s senior Tyke Thompson were the other second-team picks, each earning all-conference honors for the second consecutive season.