The USCAA announced its Division II Men's and Women's Basketball All-Americans on Tuesday evening at the 2018 USCAA Basketball National Tournament Banquet at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, PA, and Berkeley College's basketball teams were well represented. On the men's side, standout Michael Taylor was selected as the Player of the Year (and First Team All-American). In addition, senior Johnnie Green earned a First Team All-American distinction, and veteran Ricardo Ayuso was tabbed a Second Team All-American. The Knights' women's squad was represented by Ayana Ratliff, who was selected as a First Team All-American. Following the banquet, first year men's basketball Head Coach Jonathan Pena spoke about how proud he was of Taylor, Green, and Ayuso getting recognized by the USCAA.
"There certainly was a fair amount of anxiety leading up to the announcements, but the ultimate reward was hearing the names of the student-athletes be announced and seeing their gratification," Head Coach Jonathan Pena said. "Michael has truly been a dominant offensive presence for us this season – but he also always finds a way to get his teammates involved, and that makes him a very dynamic player. Johnnie is the backbone of our team. He puts in a lot of work in practice and works exceptionally hard during games. And Ricardo has always been a quality three-point threat and a tenacious defensive player. They're all pivotal pieces of our team, and their tireless efforts have culminated in them garnering well-deserved USCAA recognition. I'm very happy for them."
Michael Taylor has been incredible for the Knights during his one and only season with the team, and his stellar campaign has earned him the top billing in the USCAA. He has played in 23 of Berkeley's 26 games, started 22 of them, and he leads the team in scoring with 18 points per contest. His 3.8 assists per game were a team-high, and his 1.6 steals per contest placed him second on the team in that category. His 68 three-point baskets led the Knights. Taylor - a 6'4, Brooklyn, NY native – has scored 20 or more points on eight difference occasions this season – while also reaching the 30-point mark twice. The guard was tabbed as the HVIAC Player of the Week twice, and the USCAA Player of the Week once. Most recently, he scored 31 points in the Knights' 93-82 victory over the Blue Angels of the College of New Rochelle in the HVIAC title game. Following the contest, he was named the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament. He was also named an HVIAC All-Conference player.
Johnnie Green – a USCAA First Team All-American - was the only Knight to appear in all 26 of the team's contests this season, as he started 25 of them. The Brooklyn, NY native averaged 13.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per night, while also posting six double-doubles on the year. Green was selected as the HVIAC Player of the Week twice this season, while also earning Honor Roll recognition once. Most recently, he scored 22 points and snatched a game-high 11 rebounds to help Berkeley win its fourth consecutive Regional title with a 93-82 win over the College of New Rochelle. Green currently has 998 career points, just two shy of 1,000 for his career. He was also Regionally recognized as an All-Conference player
Ricardo Ayuso earned USCAA Second Team All-American status thanks to his vital contributions to Berkeley College's men's basketball team this past season. Ayuso – who played in 23 of the team's 26 games – starting 22 of them – averaged 14.1 points per evening, while also leading the Knights in steals per game with two. His 45 three-point baskets were good for second-most on the team. Ayuso scored in double figures 18 times, while also netting 20 points or more on five different occasions. He currently has 620 points in less than two seasons as a Knight. Ayuso was also tabbed as an HVIAC All-Conference player nine days ago.
To follow the Berkeley College men's basketball team's quest for its fourth consecutive National Championship, visit the USCAA website at 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 – www.berkeleycollegeknights.com.
Ayana Ratliff – a USCAA First Team All-American, HVIAC Player of the Year, and four-time HVIAC Player of the Week - scored in double figures in all 21 of the Knights' games this season. The Brooklyn, NY native led the conference in scoring as well, netting 27.4 points a clip and posting three games of 30 points or more against league opponents. She was also second in the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in total steals with 83. On the USCAA front, Ratliff led the Nation in scoring, while also placing fifth on the USCAA total steals list. Following the announcement of Ratliff earning the prestigious National honor, Head Coach Alex Kuchar spoke.
"Words cannot express how impressed I am by not only Ayana's statistics, but also the all-around impact she had on our program this past season," Kuchar said. "It is very fitting that she was recognized by the USCAA earlier this evening. In addition to dominating on both sides of the court this season, she also made all of the players around her better, and she carried herself in professional fashion. She was the consummate teammate night in and night out. I am very pleased that she earned the praise she did tonight."