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Jacari Whitfield and Micah Walker swept the CCAA Freshman of the Year awards. (Photos: Kelley Cox)

Pioneer basketball players collect conference awards

  • February 22, 2012

The Cal State East Bay men and women's basketball teams capped the 2011-12 campaign with four awards from the California Collegiate Athletic Association.

Jacari Whitfield and Micah Walker swept the 2012 CCAA Freshman of the Year honors, claiming the award on the men and women's sides, respectively. Marlene MacMillan and Mark Samuels each collected All-CCAA second team honors. The all-conference selections are firsts for both teams, while Walker is the second Pioneer women's basketball player to earn CCAA Freshman of the Year. 

Walker averaged 9.1 points per game during her rookie campaign to finish second on the team. The Reno, Nev., native led the team in assists, dishing out an average of two per game, while adding 3.5 rebounds per contest. Walker finished off the season strong, scoring in double figures in four of the last six games to bring her season total to 11 games in which she scored 10 or more points. The wing also notched 11 games with three or more assists and grabbed four or more rebounds 16 times during the campaign. 

"We knew we had something special with Micah and she did not disappoint," Women's Basketball Head Coach Suzy Barcomb said. "She is a true competitor, wants what is best for the team and is willing to put in the extra work to improve her overall game."

Whitfield, who prepped at St. Joseph Notre Dame High School, was fifth in the conference in assists (3.1), seventh in assist/turnover ratio (1.4) and 10th in 3-point baskets made (1.7). The San Francisco native is the men's team's first ever CCAA Freshman of the Year honoree. 

Samuels was the fourth leading scorer in the CCAA averaging 15.1 points per game. Also in the CCAA, Samuels was fourth in assists (3.2), 14th in field goal percentage (47.3) and 17th in rebounds (5.3).

MacMillan earned her first All-CCAA honors after leading the team with 9.2 points per game and ranking third in the league in rebounding with 9.3 boards per game. A native of Tracy, MacMillan also posted the second-best field goal percentage on the team, hitting 47.1 percent of her shots from the floor to rank among the top 10 in the CCAA, while her 1.7 assists per game were also second on the team. The junior forward was also a force to be reckoned with on defense, helping the Pioneers finish second in the scoring defense in with her 0.9 blocks per game, which were fifth in the CCAA. 

"Mac has played a fairly significant injury this entire season and for her to put up the rebounding numbers she did was pretty amazing," Barcomb said. "She has been a warrior for us on the glass and the growth in her overall game has been consistent throughout the year."  

The Cal State East Bay women capped an historic season with their first CCAA Tournament selection in the first year of eligibility for the postseason since completing the transition to Division II. Barcomb collected her 250th career win with a 46-41 win over San Francisco State on Feb. 10. East Bay finished the season ranked among the top defenses in the CCAA, leading the league in rebounding defense (33.9 rpg) and ranking second in scoring defense (58.6 ppg). The Pioneers finished with their best record (12-17, 9-13 CCAA) since the 2007-08 campaign, recording double-digit wins and finishing in a tie for seventh in the conference. 

The Pioneer men's basketball team showed improvement during the 2011-12 campaign finishing ninth in the CCAA with an 8-14 record. The previous two years, the Pioneers compiled a 5-39 record in the CCAA. The Pioneers were 10-16 overall in 2011-12 and nearly clinched the final conference postseason spot during the final two weeks of the season.

Walker and Whitfield's Freshman of the Year awards give Cal State East Bay four such honors since the Pioneers joined the CCAA in the 2009-10 season. They join women's basketball player Lauren Lucchesi and baseball player Charlie Sharrer as CCAA Freshman of the Year recipients, while Walker makes women's basketball the only East Bay team to have freshman players earn two of the awards. Whitfield and Walker are also the first Pioneer duo in school history to sweep the conference Freshman of the Year award in any sport at any level and Cal State East Bay is the first school in CCAA history to claim both awards in basketball in the same year. 

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