ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Coaches from around the league have selected Southern Vermont College senior guard Mike Pierre (Melrose, N.Y.) as the 2018 New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Men's Basketball Player of the Year as announced on Monday.
He joined classmate Daemond Carter (Forestville, Md.) and Mountaineer fifth-year head coach Dan Engelstad in garnering major accolades as they were tabbed the Conference's Defensive Player and Coach of the Year, respectively. Junior Rohan Piple (Germantown, Md.) was chosen to be SVC's representative on the NECC All-sportsmanship Team.
Pierre's honor comes on the heels of an outstanding 2017-18 campaign, and it is SVC's second Player of the Year award in the last four years (DeShawn Hamlet '16, 2015). Carter picks up the league's first-ever Defensive Player of the Year laurel while Engelstad was chosen by his fellow coaches as the top coach in the NECC for the third time in the last four seasons (2015 & 2016).
Pierre amassed 451 points in 24 games during the regular season to average 18.8 per contest. He had nine games in which he scored 20 or more, including his 47-point performance against Mass. College of Liberal Arts on January 3 which broke SVC's single-game record. The Mountaineer senior also had 6.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.6 steals per game prior to the playoffs when voting was conducted. He was named the NECC Player of the Week in early January, and he then notched his 1,000th collegiate point later in the month.
"Mike's talent is undeniable," Engelstad said. "His ability to score the basketball is special. After the way his 2016-17 season ended, it was impressive to see his work ethic to not only get back on the court—but to get back and get better. Mike is a game-changer. Mike is a leader for our team on the court, and it has been an honor to coach him these past two seasons. This award is well-deserved."
Carter is collecting his second major award of his career as he was named the league's Rookie of the Year in 2015. He was solid on the defensive side of the ball—notching 1.6 steals per game to rank sixth in the NECC. The SVC senior has 99 career steals heading into the NCAA Division III tournament to sit at eighth on the program's all-time record list; that mark is just two shy of tying the school's sixth-place total. Not all of his effort showed up in the steals line as he helped a Mountaineer unit that forced its opponents to commit the 18th-most turnovers per game (19.1) in DIII.
"I love that the league has added this award," said Engelstad. "We preach being a defensive team, and Daemond has bought into that from day one. Daemond's energy and heart have been a huge part of our success over the past four seasons. His steals leading to transition buckets are what earned him Rookie of the Year and are a big part of what earned him Defensive Player of the Year. Daemond's defense has improved each season, and we also know we can count on him to lock down the other team's top guy."
Piple completed his first season for the Mountaineers after transferring to SVC for the fall semester. While he only saw 3.5 minutes per game in 17 appearances, Southern Vermont fans rarely saw him actually sitting on the bench as the junior was constantly on his feet—cheering on his teammates. When in the game, he was a threat from the outside and able to spark the Mountaineer crowd with 3-pointers.
"Rohan has made a big impact on our program," Engelstad commented. "On the court, he has one of the most pure jump shots I have seen. But bigger than basketball, he is a terrific human being. He is a fantastic teammate, and he brings a positive energy and an infectious smile to whatever he does. His teammates respect him, his classmates love him, and he is always respectful. Nobody is more deserving of this award."
Engelstad, who was already Southern Vermont's all-time winningest coach, recorded his 100th career victory on February 8 to become the first Mountaineer coach of any program to hit the milestone. He was just the second men's basketball coach in league history to notch triple digits in the career win column while leading SVC to its fourth-straight number one seed.
"It is an honor to be voted as Coach of the Year by my peers," he said. "But coaching doesn't work without a team. I am very fortunate to work with my coaching staff—Dave [Bromirski], Alex [Burt], and Deshawn [Hamlet]—and our players every day. This team is a special one for me, and it has been rewarding for me to see them grow together and be successful. I am also very thankful for the SVC and Bennington communities; their support means so much."
All-Conference teams and the top awards were voted on by league coaches prior to the start of the postseason tournament.
2018 NECC Men's Basketball Major Awards & All-Conference Teams
Player of the Year – Mike Pierre, Southern Vermont (Sr., G, Melrose, N.Y.)
Defensive Player of the Year – Daemond Carter, Southern Vermont (Sr., G, Forestville, Md.)
Rookie of the Year – Greg Metelus, Elms (Fr., G., Palm Beach, Fla.)
Coach of the Year – Dan Engelstad, Southern Vermont
First Team All-NECC
Kareem Davis, Becker (Jr., G, Lowell, Mass.)
Samuel Durodola, Becker (Sr., F, Rosedale, N.Y.)
Jordan Booker, Dean (So., G, Waterbury, Conn.)
Domenico Santiago, Mitchell (Jr., C, Port St. Lucie, Fla.)
Mike Pierre, Southern Vermont (Sr., G, Melrose, N.Y.)
Second Team All-NECC
Joey Martin, Lesley (Jr., F, Melbourne, Fla.)
Alan Morgan, Mitchell (Sr., G, Port St. Lucie, Fla.)
Hasani Williams, Mitchell (So., F, Miramar, Fla.)
Jeduan Langston, Newbury (Sr., G, Roxbury, Mass.)
Dejuan Rodriguez, Wheelock (Jr., F, New London, Conn.)
NECC All-sportsmanship Team
Bernard Broaster, Becker (Jr., F, Pembroke Pines, Fla.)
Noah Cesar, Dean (Fr., G, Miami, Fla.)
Tyler Sterling, Elms (Fr., G, Laurel, Md.)
William Cuffee, Lesley (Jr., F, Amherst, Mass.)
Colizel Lewis, Mitchell (Sr., G, Stockton, Calif.)
Tim Deng, Newbury (Fr., F, Portland, Maine)
Rohan Piple, Southern Vermont (Jr., G/F, Germantown, Md.)
Brendan Miller, Wheelock (Fr., F, Tampa, Fla.)
– #LetsGoSVC –