ATLANTA (March 23, 2018) – The Atlanta Tipoff Club today announced winners of the Georgia Men’s and Women’s College Players and Coaches of the Year awards. The honorees are:

Georgia Men’s College Co-Players of the Year

Yante Maten, University of Georgia

  • Maten became Georgia’s third SEC Player of the Year honoree this season, joining Dominique Wilkins in 1980-81 and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in 2012-13.
  • He also earned All-SEC accolades for the third-straight season, just the sixth Bulldog to do so and the first in more than 25 years.
  • The power forward led the SEC in scoring this season at 19.3 ppg.
  • He ranked No. 3 in rebounding, No. 3 in minutes played, No. 8 in field goal percentage and No. 10 in both blocked shots and free throw percentage.
  • The senior finished his career ranked among Georgia’s top-10 statistical leaders in seven categories with the most notable being he is No. 2 in points (1886), No. 4 in rebounds (889) and No. 3 in blocked shots (149).

D’Marcus Simonds, Georgia State University

  • Simonds paced the Panthers with a school-record 21.2 points per game along with 5.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists.
  • The sophomore guard was named the Sun Belt Player of the Year and earned All-Sun Belt First Team honors just a year after garnering the league’s freshman of the year award.
  • He was also named the Sun Belt Conference Tournament MVP after scoring 27 points to lead the Panthers to a second conference title in the last four years.
  • The Gainesville, Georgia, native ranked No. 24 in the country in scoring and was one of just eight players ranked in the top 25 in the NCAA in scoring to make the Big Dance.
  • Simonds currently stands No. 15 on the career scoring list with 1,106 points.

Georgia Women’s College Player of the Year

Kahlia Lawrence, Mercer University

  • Lawrence led the Bears with 19.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
    She helped lead Mercer to the program’s first-ever outright SoCon regular season and SoCon Tournament Championship this season.
  • The Columbus, Georgia, guard helped the Bears reach the NCAA Division I Tournament for the first time in program history.
  • The senior was named SoCon Player of the Year for the third time, the only player to win this honor three times, and named SoCon Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
  • She also registered the second-most points in a single game in the conference this season with 39 against ACC opponent North Carolina, giving the Bears their first win ever over an ACC opponent.
  • The senior was instrumental in helping Mercer reel off 27 straight victories and finish the regular season at 30-3.

Georgia Women’s College Coach of the Year

Joni Taylor, University of Georgia

  • Taylor was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Werner Ladder Naismith National Coach of the Year award after leading Georgia to its biggest single-season turnaround since 1980.
  • After being picked eighth in the SEC’s preseason poll, the Lady Bulldogs finished in a tie for second place with a 26-7 overall record, making the 26 wins the most in a single season for a Georgia team since the 2006-07 campaign.
  • A year after missing out on the NCAA Tournament, Taylor not only led the Lady Bulldogs back to the Big Dance, but her team earned a No. 4 seed and hosted the NCAA first and second rounds in Athens for the first time since 2003.
  • Under her leadership, Mackenzie Engram and Caliya Robinson earned All-SEC honors, while freshman Que Morrison placed on the SEC All-Freshman Team. Haley Clark earned the league’s Scholar Athlete of the Year award, marking the second time in three years under Coach Taylor one of her players has earned the prestigious honor.
  • Taylor led a young group of Lady Bulldogs in 2017-18. Three of Georgia’s top-5 scorers were newcomers in their first season in Athens.

Georgia Men’s College Coach of the Year

Grady Brewer, Morehouse College

  • Brewer was named SIAC Coach of the Year.
  • He guided Morehouse to one of the best season’s in program history, which included a school-record 18-game winning streak.
  • The Maroon Tigers were ranked No. 1 in the NCAA South Region and climbed to No. 6 nationally, before finishing no. 10 in the season’s final poll.
  • His team was the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Division II South Region Tournament.
  • Brewer led Morehouse to a SIAC championship (18-1) and finished the season at 25-3.

“These individuals are a huge part of the state of Georgia’s continued tradition of athletic excellence,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. “Their contributions to the game of basketball this season have been impressive. We’re proud to honor these athletes and coaches who represent our state and sport so well.”

Celebrating 50 Years of the Citizen Naismith Trophy

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 have become 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 Basketball Players of the Year. Other Naismith Awards are presented to the Men’s and Women’s College Basketball Coaches of the Year, Boys’ and Girls’ High School Basketball Players and Coaches of the Year, Basketball Officials and Outstanding Contributors to the game. Celebrating its 50th year by honoring past winners, the Citizen Naismith Trophy was first presented to UCLA’s Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) in 1969. Old Dominion’s Anne Donovan won the inaugural Women’s Citizen Naismith Trophy in 1983.


Media Contact:
Traci Messier