LAFAYETTE – Freshman Cameron Thomas led a trio of LSU Tigers on the first team as the 2020-21 Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA) Men’s College Basketball Team was announced on Tuesday by the organization.
The 18-member team was selected after nominations by the state’s sports information directors and voted on by a panel of the state SIDs and media members.
Thomas claimed a pair of specialty honors as he became the first player since former LSU standout Ben Simmons to claim both Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors. Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns junior Theo Akwuba (pronounced ah-KOO-buh) was selected as the state’s Newcomer of the Year while Eric Konkol of Louisiana Tech was named the state’s Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.
Thomas led both LSU and all NCAA Division I freshmen in scoring with a 22.6 average while being named first-team All-SEC. The USA Today Second Team All-American posted the fourth-highest scoring average by a first-year player in school history following Pete Maravich (1968), Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (1989) and Bob Pettit (1952).
The Chesapeake, Va., native averaged 23.1 points per game in SEC play and had 21 games with 20 or more points – the most of any LSU player since Shaquille O’Neal in 1992. Thomas’ 16 games with 25-plus points were the most by any SEC freshman in the One-and-Done era (since 2006) and he converted on 88 percent of his free throws (176-for-200), including a school-record 42 consecutive makes.
Akwuba, a transfer from the University of Portland, had a breakout season for the Ragin’ Cajuns as he finished among the national leaders in blocked shots, rebounds per game and double-doubles. The 6-foot-11 post player averaged 11.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in being named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
The second-team All-SBC selection debuted for Louisiana with 22 points on a 9-for-9 performance from the floor against eventual national champion Baylor. Akwuba, who opened the season making 21 of 24 attempts from the floor, converted on 64 percent of his field goal attempts and was a 71-percent shooter (66-for-93) from the free throw line.
Konkol guided Louisiana Tech to a 24-8 overall record, the Conference USA West Division title and a berth in the National Invitation Tournament. Playing the second-toughest league schedule per KenPom.com, Konkol earned C-USA Coach of the Year honors and was the NABC District 11 Coach of the Year.
He became the first coach in program history to lead his team to five 20-win seasons while the Bulldogs were only one of five teams nationally to record 15 victories at home during the 2020-21 season. His team was rated No. 1 in C-USA and 39th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Joining Thomas on the first team were teammates Javonte Smart and Trendon Watford – the 2020 LSWA Freshman of the Year – plus Louisiana’s Cedric Russell and LSU-Shreveport guard Kadavion Evans.
Akwuba was joined on the second team by a pair of newcomers – Tulane’s Jaylen Forbes and Ty Gordon of Nicholls – along with Louisiana Tech freshman Kenneth Lofton, Jr., and Rayshawn Mart of Xavier.
LSU’s Darius Days and New Orleans’ Damion Rosser were joined on the third-team by Kae’Ron Baker of Louisiana College, Zach Wrightsil of Loyola and LSU-Eunice’s Jonathan Cisse. Named honorable mention were Malik Amos of Dillard, Isaiah Crawford of Louisiana Tech and Centenary’s Seth Thomas.
LSWA ALL-LOUISIANA MEN’S BASKETBALL TEAMS
Kadavion Evans, LSU-Shreveport
Cedric Russell, Louisiana
Javonte Smart, LSU
Cameron Thomas, LSU
Trendon Watford, LSU
Theo Akwuba, Louisiana
Jaylen Forbes, Tulane
Ty Gordon, Nicholls
Kenneth Lofton, Jr., Louisiana Tech
Rayshawn Mart, Xavier
Kae’Ron Baker, Louisiana College
Jonathan Cisse, LSU-Eunice
Darius Days, LSU
Damion Rosser, New Orleans
Zach Wrightsil, Loyola
Honorable Mention: Malik Amos, Dillard; Isaiah Crawford, Louisiana Tech; Seth Thomas, Centenary.
Player of the Year: Cameron Thomas, LSU
Newcomer of the Year: Theo Akwuba, Louisiana
Freshman of the Year: Cameron Thomas, LSU
Coach of the Year: Eric Konkol, Louisiana Tech