The USCAA announced its Division II men's basketball All-Americans on Tuesday evening at the 2017 USCAA Basketball National Tournament Banquet at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, PA, and Berkeley College's men's basketball team was well represented. Head Coach Chris Christiansen was tabbed as the National Coach of the Year, and a total of three student-athletes were recognized as well. Massiah Merritt was selected as the Player of the Year as well as a First Team All American. Stephon Jennings was named a Second Team All-American, and Johnnie Green earned Honorable Mention recognition.
Head Coach Chris Christiansen has been a staple of the Berkeley College men's basketball program since its inception 21 years ago, and he has led the men's basketball team to unmatched heights over the past three seasons. Under his guidance, the team has won two consecutive USCAA Division II National titles as well as three consecutive Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference crowns. The squad currently owns a 50-game winning streak, which is the longest streak any team in any sport at the institution has ever boasted. Overall, the Knights have won 61 of their past 62 games. Christiansen's win-loss record during his career is a staggering 200-74 (73 percent).
"It truly is an honor for me to be named the 2016-2017 USCAA Division II Men's Basketball Coach of the Year," Christiansen said. "There are so many hard-working coaches on the National scene and while I take a tremendous amount of pride in being recognized, I also want to give credit to my coaching staff and the student-athletes because they work so diligently and sacrifice so much in order for us to have the amazing success we've had as a team. I am a true believer that trust and communication are key elements of not only basketball, but of successful lives. This team – from top to bottom – consists of individuals who believe in the primary goal of winning championships, and that makes me very proud. I also would be remissed if I didn't congratulate Massiah, Stephon, and Johnnie for being recognized on the grandest stage of them all, as well. It was a terrific all-around night for our program!"
Massiah Merritt was selected as the USCAA Player of the Year (and First Team All-American), and for good reason. The Brooklyn, NY product has played in 24 of the Knights' 26 contests this season, averaging a team-leading 14.8 points-per-game. His 4.5 assists and 2.6 steals per contest are also team-bests, and he has recorded 17 points or more in 10 different games on the 2016-2017 campaign. Additionally, Merritt – who currently has 1176 points and 301 assists for his career – has been named one of SmallCollegeBasketball.com's top 100 players. He is currently in consideration for the Clarence "Bevo" Francis Award, an honor that is presented annually to the player who has had the finest overall season within Small College Basketball. Considerations are season statistics and individual achievements, awards, personal character and team achievements. This is an incredibly prestigious award that is only given to one player within Small College Basketball per season.
Stephon Jennings was selected as a Second Team All-American, as the A. Philip Randolph High School product's 9.6 rebounds per contest are a team-high, and his 14.1 points-per-game are good for second-best on the Knights. Additionally, the senior has posted nine double-doubles, and currently has 977 points and 696 rebounds for his career.
Johnnie Green was tabbed as an Honorable Mention, as he has put together a very versatile senior season for Berkeley College's men's basketball team. The 6'5 senior was named this season's Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player. He scored 18 points while snatching 12 rebounds in Berkeley College's win over the College of New Rochelle in the championship game. Also, in the Knights' convincing semifinal round victory over the Mighty Oaks of SUNY-ESF, the senior netted 14 points while grabbing 12 boards. He currently owns averages of 12.2 points per contest, as well as 6.8 rebounds-per-game.
Below is the recapped list of the 2016-2017 Berkeley College honorees:
Chris Christiansen – Coach of the Year
Massiah Merritt – Player of the Year/First Team All-American
Stephon Jennings – Second Team All-American
Johnnie Green – Honorable Mention All-American
To follow the Knights in their quest for another National Championship, visit the USCAA website – www.theUSCAA.com. Live statistics and live video streaming will be available for select games. Recaps of all Berkeley College contests will be available by the Knights' athletics website at http://berkeleycollegeknights.com.