The season of milestones continues for the USC Aiken men’s basketball team. Players have broken records, and the team has advanced into the Division II NCAA Tournament further than ever before in program history.
All of the success has led to recognition for players and coaches, and several members of the Pacers were recognized Friday. That was when the 2013 National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division II Southeast All-District Team was announced. USCA, the Southeast Regional champion, is well represented.
• Back-to-back Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year Vince Alexander was tabbed as the Coach of the Year in the district by NABC member coaches.
• Re’mon Nelson – previously named the PBC Player of the Year, PBC Tournament MVP and Southeast Regional Most Outstanding Player – was tabbed to the Southeast All-District First-Team.
• Joining Nelson on the First-Team is junior forward Paul Larsen, a transfer from Mercer.
Now a two-time district Coach of the Year, Alexander has turned the Pacers into a national power. Alexander became USCA’s all-time wins leader earlier this season and has a 150-92 record in eight seasons as the Pacers’ head coach. In 14 seasons as a head coach, Alexander has a 239-166 overall record.
Under Alexander’s guidance, USCA has reached great heights. In 2007-08, it was nationally ranked for the first time, was the PBC regular-season champions and finished with a single-season program record 27 wins.
Alexander guided the 2008-09 Pacers to their first appearance in the Sweet Sixteen. One year later, USCA won the PBC Tournament championship and has now claimed back-to-back PBC regular-season championships for the first time in program history.
The Pacers are currently in the midst of the best season in program history, having won the PBC regular-season title, the PBC Tournament title and the Division II NCAA Tournament Southeast Regional crown.
Nelson has now claimed All-Region First-Team honors from the NABC and Daktronics. With 515 career assists, the senior guard is the all-time leader in USCA and PBC history. He’s currently averaging 13.8 points, 6.2 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game. A First-Team All-PBC selection, Nelson has dished out a program-best 199 assists this year entering the Elite Eight.
The Pacers’ all-time leader in steals (196), Nelson is USCA’s second all-time leading scorer in its D-II history with 1,235 points in his career.
“He’s been with me four years, what can you say,” Alexander said of Nelson. “He’s got heart and leads the team. He’s the catalyst behind it and gets us going.”
A Second-Team All-PBC selection, Larsen has put together a strong first season in a Pacer uniform. He’s presently averaging 13.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. One of the best low post players in the country, Larsen has 13 double-doubles on the season.
Larsen and Nelson were among the 89 players, from eight districts, recognized by the coaches. All the players selected are now eligible for the NABC Coaches’ Division II All-America team.
The 20th-ranked Pacers’ focus isn’t on awards, it’s on continuing their successful postseason run that most recently saw them win the Southeast Regional. The victory allowed them to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history, and the Pacers will travel to Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky., to begin the Elite Eight on Thursday.
“This team believes individuals win awards, teams win championships,” Alexander said. “When (Re’mon) wins an award, that’s us. Without being blessed with these guys, I can’t accomplish this,” Alexander said of his personal achievements.
USCA (25-7) will face Midwest Region champion/seventh-ranked Drury (28-4) at 8:30 p.m. The game will be streamed live on NCAA.com.
NABC All-Southeast District First-Team
Gerald Boston, Barton
Tyshawn Good, Belmont Abbey
Paul Larsen, USC Aiken
Aric Miller, Armstrong Atlantic
Re’mon Nelson, USC Aiken
Antonio Stabler, Queens
Coach of the Year: Vince Alexander, USC Aiken