Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
DENVER, CO - New Mexico State men’s basketball senior guard Ian Baker was named the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year after averaging 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 2016-17. Meanwhile, Eli Chuha earned Second-Team All-WAC honors and Jemerrio Jones was named to the WAC All-Newcomer Team the conference announced Tuesday morning.
NM State has now produced two of the last three conference player of the year honorees. In addition, this is the second-straight year Baker has been named First-Team All-WAC.
Baker has been everything the Aggies have needed, whether it is as a scorer or facilitator. The Washington, D.C., native scored 20-plus points 10 different times throughout the year – six of which came in conference play. In addition, Baker posted a career-high 36 points late in league play at UT Rio Grande Valley, going 11-of-18 from the floor and 11-of-13 from the line to help NM State bounce back from a pair of losses the week before.
The Aggie floor general stepped it up in WAC play, nudging his averages up to 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists. Baker scored 31.8-percent of his points in league play from the charity stripe, which was good for the league’s second-best shooting clip at .837. Baker notched his 1,000th career point at UTEP and currently leads all active players with 1,323 points.
This is the first all-conference honor for Chuha, who nearly averaged a double-double this season. The 6-7 forward scored 12.4 points per game and pulled down 9.0 rebounds per game heading into the conference tournament. The redshirt sophomore finished the regular-season with a bang and posted a career-high 28 points on 7-of-11 shooting with nine rebounds to go with a 14-for-18 night at the line.
Chuha’s 13 double-doubles this season was good for second in league and tied Chicago State’s Trayvon Palmer with seven double-doubles in WAC play. The Redlands, Calif., product has matched his career-high in rebounds of 14 twice – once at New Mexico early in the year and then again at CSU Bakersfield.
In his first season in the Crimson & White, Jones was selected to the WAC All-Newcomers Team after averaging 10.3 points and 8.5 rebounds on the year while bumping rebounding average to 8.9 rebounds in league play. The 6-5 forward also sees the court very well, dishing out 86 assists on the year and trails only the league’s player of the year and teammate, Baker. The last Aggie to earn all-newcomer team distinction was none other than Pascal Siakam.
With Baker and Moriah Mack earning player of the year honors, New Mexico State has now swept the player of the year honors for the second time in three years. Brianna Freeman and Siakam vwas the first pair of Aggies to do such at the end of the 2014-15 season.
The NM State men’s basketball team opens the WAC Tournament this Thursday, March 9, at 5:30 p.m. (MT)/4:30 p.m. (PT) against the No. 7-seed, Chicago State, in Orleans Arena. Mychal Clanton will have the call on the WAC Digital Network broadcast while former Arizona Wildcat and Seattle U women’s basketball head coach Joan Bonvicini serves as the analyst and Jessie Punch on the sidelines.