ATLANTA (March 23, 2017) – Mercer University junior Kahlia Lawrence and University of Georgia senior J.J. Frazier have been named the 2017 Georgia College Basketball Players of the Year by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, the organization announced today. Additionally, Columbus State’s Anita Howard and Georgia Tech’s Josh Pastner were named the John “Whack” Hyder Georgia College Coaches of the Year.

The winners were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s board of selectors, which based its decisions on season-long performances.


Kahlia Lawrence, Junior, Mercer University 

  • Was named the Southern Conference Player of the Year for the second consecutive year
  • First player in conference history to win Freshman of the Year, Player of the Year, Player of the Year honors in three consecutive seasons
  • She was also named to the All-SoCon First Team and the All-Tournament First Team
  • Led Mercer to its second straight regular season Southern Conference title
  • Lawrence averaged 18.4 points per game, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.5 steals
  • Shot 43 percent from the field, 30 percent from 3-point range, and 80 percent from the foul line

J.J. Frazier, Senior, University of Georgia 

  • The 5’10” guard was named consensus first-team All-SEC by league coaches and the Associated Press this season after leading the Bulldogs in scoring, assists, steals and minutes played
  • He scored 640 points during 2016-17, the third-best single-season mark in school history
  • Among SEC leaders, Frazier led the league in playing time (34.6 mpg) and also ranked No. 3 in scoring (18.8 ppg), No. 2 in free throw percentage (.886), No. 3 in steals (1.9 spg), No. 5 in assists (4.1 apg) and No. 6 in assist-to-turnovers (1.8 ratio)
  • Frazier had a streak of 45 consecutive free throws made late in the season, a school record and the second-longest streak in SEC history
  • The senior finishes his career among UGA’s top-10 career leaders in nine categories – No. 1 in free throw percentage (.841), No. 4 in 3-point attempted (576), No. 4 in free throws made (450), No. 5 in assists (422), No. 6 in 3-pointers made (204), No. 6 in free throw attempted (535), No. 7 in scoring (1,628 points), No. 7 in field goal attempts (490) and No. 10 in steals (164)

Anita Howard, Columbus State University 

  • The first-year head coach was named the 2017 Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year
  • Led the Lady Cougars to a 31-2 record, despite falling to Virginia Union in the NCAA Division II national quarterfinals
  • The 31 wins matched the program’s single-season record
  • She led the team to a 22-game CSU winning streak, which ended on Tuesday
  • Howard’s squad claimed a Peach Belt championship, a Southeast Regional championship, and a berth in the NCAA Elite Eight

Josh Pastner, Georgia Tech 

  • In his first year on the Flats, he has coached the Yellow Jackets to a 20-15 record and the final four of the National Invitation Tournament
  • He has won more games than any first-year coach in Tech history
  • Pastner coached a Yellow Jacket team projected to finish 14th in the ACC, having lost its top four players from last year’s NIT squad, into position to be considered for an NCAA Tournament berth as late as mid-February. The Jackets finished in 11th place in the conference standings with an 8-10 record
  • Beginning with their 75-63 upset of ninth-ranked North Carolina on New Year’s Eve, the Yellow Jackets defeated three top-15 teams, including No. 6 Florida State and No. 14 Notre Dame. Tech has fashioned a 4-4 record against teams in the top 25 of the RPI rankings and has won six more games against teams ranked in the top 100
  • Tech’s defense leads the ACC in field goal percentage defense against conference teams and is in the top three in scoring defense

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Founded during the 1956-57 season, the Atlanta Tipoff Club is committed to promoting the game of basketball and recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting. The Atlanta Tipoff Club administers the Naismith Awards, which are the most prestigious national honors in all of college basketball. Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball, the Naismith Trophy recognizes the top Men’s and Women’s college and high school basketball players, coaches, administrators and officials.

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Traci Messier
Jackson Spalding for the Atlanta Tipoff Club