Randall Named SSC Coach of the Year; Thomas Earns Conference Newcomer of the Year

WINTER PARK, Fla. – The amazing turnaround on the Bowman Center hardwood is evident across the Sunshine State Conference as the 17-win Lions saw Head Coach Lance Randall named the SSC's Coach of the Year and Trent Thomas earn Newcomer of the Year honors as was announced by the league office on Thursday.  It was an All-SSC team that saw the duo join junior Marcus Ruh in representing Saint Leo in impressive fashion.

In his debut season at Saint Leo, Randall led a resurgence in the Lions basketball program. He inherited a team that was picked last in the SSC preseason poll and led it to a third-place finish in the regular-season standings with a 10-6 conference mark. Currently sporting a 17-10 overall record, the Lions have won eight consecutive games, breaking a program record that dates back to 1987. The hallmark of Randall's squad is hard-nosed defense, and his Lions lead the league in scoring defense and are sixth in the nation, permitting just 58.3 points per game. Saint Leo also led the league in holding its opponents to a 39.9 percent field goal percentage and 30.6 percent three-point percentage.

He is only the third Saint Leo coach to earn the Coach of the Year honors in men's basketball, joining former Athletic Director and Coach Norm Kaye who earned the honor in 1977 and Gary Richert who earned it twice in 1984 and 1988.

A junior transfer from North Dakota State College of Science, Thomas played a key role for a revived Saint Leo program. He ranked sixth in the SSC with 14.6 points per game. A native of Milwaukee, Wis., Thomas shot the ball at a solid clip, connecting on 40.4 percent (3rd SSC) of his three-pointers and 81.6 percent (5th SSC) of his free throws. He also ranked 10th in the conference with 1.4 steals per outing.

Ruh also joined his teammate and coach on both the first team and all-newcomer team as the junior guard averaged 12.6 points per game, an SSC Player of the Week honor and a reputation for the Lions' most clutch performer.  The Green Bay, Wisc. Native played and started in all 27 games for the Lions and has seen over 900 minutes of court time, easily the most seasoned performer for Saint Leo.

A total of 15 student-athletes were named to the 2011-12 All-Sunshine State Conference Men's Basketball Team. Joining Randall and Thomas, Eckerd's Lance Kearse was selected Player of the Year and Rollins' Chris Malcolm was chosen Defensive Player of the Year.  Florida Southern's Kevin Capers was recognized as Freshman of the Year.

Earning a slot on the All-SSC First Team with Kearse, Thomas and Ruh were Simon Cummings (Florida Tech) and Seth Evans (Florida Southern).

The All-SSC Second Team was comprised Malcolm and Brett Bailey (Florida Southern), Derek Hellemann (Florida Tech), Julius Reid (Florida Tech), and Evan White (Barry).

An All-Newcomer Team was also chosen. In addition to Capers, Evans, Ruh, and Thomas, Lynn's Jeremy Lampkin also received a slot on the squad.

Voting for the All-SSC Men's Basketball Team was conducted among the league's men's basketball coaches and sports information directors.

Randall, Thomas and Ruh and the rest of the Lions will continue their season when they visit Lakeland, Fla. for the SSC Tournament Semifinals as they face Eckerd College.  Saint Leo will tip-off with the Tritons at noon on Saturday.  For the latest news, information, and updates on Lions Basketball as they push further into the postseason, and for more about all other Saint Leo Athletics, visit SaintLeoLions.com.

2011-12 ALL-SUNSHINE STATE CONFERENCE MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM

FIRST TEAM
Simon Cummings, Florida Tech, Senior
Seth Evans, Florida Southern, Junior
Lance Kearse, Eckerd, Senior
Marcus Ruh, Saint Leo, Junior
Trent Thomas, Saint Leo, Junior

Player of the Year - Lance Kearse, Eckerd
Defensive Player of the Year - Chris Malcolm, Rollins
Newcomer of the Year - Trent Thomas, Saint Leo
Freshman of the Year - Kevin Capers, Florida Southern
Coach of the Year - Lance Randall, Saint Leo

SECOND TEAM
Brett Bailey, Florida Southern, Junior
Derek Hellemann, Florida Tech, Senior
Chris Malcolm, Rollins, Senior
Julius Reid, Florida Tech, Junior
Evan White, Barry, Senior

ALL-NEWCOMER TEAM
Kevin Capers, Florida Southern, Freshman
Seth Evans, Florida Southern, Junior
Jeremy Lampkin, Lynn, Junior
Marcus Ruh, Saint Leo, Junior
Trent Thomas, Saint Leo, Junior