University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball coach Matt McCall was named Southern Conference coach of the year by both the coaches and the league media on Tuesday.
In addition, UTC forward Tre' McLean and center Justin Tuoyo were named to all-conference teams, with the 6-foot-10 Tuoyo repeating as defensive player of the year. McLean was voted first team by the media, while Tuoyo was a second-team pick. Both made the coaches' 10-player all-conference team.
Furman's Stephen Croone was chosen the conference player of the year by both the coaches and the media after helping the Paladins to a 17-14 record and 11-7 mark in the league, good for third place.
UTC's Mocs play Saturday in the quarterfinals of the SoCon tournament in Asheville, N.C., against the winner between Samford and Virginia Military Institute.
In his first season as head coach, the 34-year-old McCall directed the Mocs to a 26-5 regular-season mark and a 15-3 record against SoCon competition for the Mocs' first conference title since 1994.
"One thing I've always said, it's never going to be about me," McCall said in a news release. "I was fortunate enough to be named Southern Conference coach of the year because of these players and our staff. It has nothing to do with me.facebook
"Ultimately, that's the reason why. It's because of our players and staff."
He guided the Mocs to road wins over Dayton and Georgia, as well as Big Ten member Illinois in a neutral-site game. In league play, the Mocs swept Mercer, Wofford and East Tennessee State — teams expected in the preseason to challenge them — and split with Furman.
Tuoyo averaged 11.6 points and 5.2 rebounds a game and had a league-high 68 blocked shots in 29 games. He had 20 games with multiple blocks and 17 with at least 10 points.
"Tuoyo's length and size as a rim protector makes him so good," McCall said. "Shot-blocking is a timing thing. He has unbelievable timing to block shots. He makes up sometimes for mistakes we make on defense. His length and athleticism affect guys; they're mindful of it driving to the basket."
McLean averaged 12.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.7 steals for Mocs, becoming possibly the team's most indispensable player in league play. In 18 conference games, his numbers bumped up to 14.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.0 steals per game.
"Tre' impacts the game in so many ways," McCall said. "He's so valuable to our team. His focus level is so important for our team. When he is locked in and focused on everything he has to do, our team is at a different level. And that's a lot for him to shoulder, but that's the truth.
"He's earned that with his work ethic. He's earned that with his approach all year long. He's always continued to put this team first, and I couldn't be more proud of him."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.