March 28, 2014

Mann, Byrd Garner More National Honors

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - Belmont University men's basketball senior J.J. Mann (Smyrna, Ga.) and head coach Rick Byrd have received more national recognition this week.

Mann has been named finalist for the 2014 Lou Henson National Player of the Year Award.

The Smryna, Ga. native etched his place in the Bruin record book, setting NCAA era program records for games played (139), victories (109), steals (208) and single-season scoring (660 points, 2014).

Mann was named 2014 OVC Player of the Year and National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District after leading the Bruins to a fifth consecutive regular season conference championship, a quarterfinal round appearance in the Postseason NIT, and a final record of 26-10.

The 6-6 swingman ranked among the OVC leaders in nine statistical categories, including scoring, three-point field goal percentage and minutes played. 

Mann scored in double figures in 32 of Belmont's 36 games this season.

Named after the former Illinois and New Mexico State head coach, the Lou Henson National Player of the Year Award is presented annually to the top Mid-Major player in NCAA Division I men's basketball.

Former Belmont All-American guard Ian Clark ('13) was a finalist a year ago.

Meanwhile, Byrd has been named the NABC District 19 Coach of the Year, as selected by his peers.

Byrd led Belmont to a ninth postseason appearance in the last 11 years, including 10 victories over postseason teams en route to a 26-10 record. In fact, Belmont is one of only six NCAA Division I men's basketball programs to win 26 or more games each of the past four seasons (Belmont, Duke, Florida, Syracuse, VCU, Wichita State).

With Belmont's victory over Indiana State November 14, Byrd passed legendary UCLA head coach John Wooden in career victories.

Byrd ranks eighth among all active NCAA Division I head coaches in career victories with 689.

Named OVC Coach of the Year for a second consecutive season and finalist for the Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year Award for a third time in fourth seasons, Byrd has been named District or Conference Coach of the Year on 12 occasions.

Also of note, Byrd has directed the Bruin program to 12 or more conference victories each of the past 12 seasons - a distinction Belmont shares with Kansas alone.

Other NABC District Coach of the Year honorees include Tony Bennett (Virginia), Jay Wright (Villanova), and Sean Miller (Arizona).