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Croone Named Southern Conference Player Of The Year By Coaches, Media

Stephen Croone
Stephen Croone

Greenville, S.C. -- Furman's Stephen Croone has been named Southern Conference Player of the Year in voting by both the league's coaches and media, and forward Matt Rafferty has been selected to the SoCon All-Freshmen Team by both groups, it was announced on Tuesday morning.

Croone, a native Covington, Ga., garnered All-SoCon honors for the third consecutive year, became the first Paladin to earn player of the year accolades since forward Chuck Vincent was named as the media's selection in 1998 and became the first Furman standout to capture unanimous SoCon Player of the Year honors since the league began voting on both a coaches and media team in 1990.

A senior, Croone has averaged 17.1 points per game, while leading the league with a 19.2 points per game average in SoCon play. Croone, who has also contributed 3.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game, has scored in double figures in 85 of his last 89 games, including each of his last 21 outings.

"I'm really proud of Stephen and all his accomplishments, and this is a really well deserved honor for him," said Paladin head coach Niko Medved. "He's put in so much work as a player and as a person to change us on the court, but also to change the culture of our program. That's a testament to him and all the work he has put in."

After garnering SoCon All-Tournament Team honors a year ago by leading the Paladin to the league finals, Croone has helped propel the Furman program to a 17-14 overall record, 11-7 league mark and a No. 3 seed in this coming weekend's SoCon Men's Basketball Championship. He helped the Paladins post a record-tying 13 home wins, including a perfect 9-0 home mark in SoCon play.

Croone enters the postseason as the SoCon's active leader with 1,870 career points, 372 assists and 174 steals. He needs just 16 points to pass former Furman great and Detroit Piston Jerry Smith for fifth on the Paladins' career scoring ledger.

Rafferty, a Hinsdale, Ill., product, averaged 8.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, while appearing in 31 games and making 26 starts as a freshman. The 6-foot-8 Rafferty paced the Paladins in scoring five times and recorded six double-doubles during his rookie season, including a 21-point, 10-rebound performance in a victory over The Citadel on February 11.

No. 3 seed Furman looks to make a repeat run to the SoCon finals this week. The Paladin open tournament play with a quarterfinal round showdown with No. 6 seed UNCG on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, N.C. The winner advances to face the winner of Saturday's contest between No. 2 seed ETSU and the Mercer/Samford winner in the semifnals on Sunday at 7:30 p.m.  Both Saturday and Sunday's games will be streamed live on ESPN3. Monday's 9 p.m. championship game will air on ESPN2.

All Furman action in the postseason can be heard on the Furman IMG Radio Network at WGOG 101.7FM and FoxSports 1440AM, as well as, on your mobile device through the TuneIn Radio app.

2016 Men's Basketball Awards - Coaches

All-Conference Team
T.J. Cromer, ETSU
Ge'Lawn Guyn, ETSU
Stephen Croone, Furman
Stephon Jelks, Mercer
R.J. White, UNCG
Tre' McLean, Chattanooga
Justin Tuoyo, Chattanooga
QJ Peterson, VMI
Mike Brown, Western Carolina
Spencer Collins, Wofford

All-Freshman Team
Matt Rafferty, Furman
Francis Alonso, UNCG
Matt Rose, Samford
Wyatt Walker, Samford
Fletcher Magee, Wofford

Player of the Year
Stephen Croone, Sr., G, Furman

Defensive Player of the Year
Justin Tuoyo, Jr., F, Chattanooga

Freshman of the Year
Fletcher Magee, G, Wofford

Coach of the Year
Matt McCall, Chattanooga


2016 Men's Basketball Awards - Media

All-Conference First Team
Ge'Lawn Guyn, ETSU
Stephen Croone, Furman
Tre' McLean, Chattanooga
Q.J. Peterson, VMI
Spencer Collins, Wofford

All-Conference Second Team
T.J. Cromer, ETSU
Stephon Jelks, Mercer
Justin Tuoyo, Chattanooga
Mike Brown, Western Carolina
Torrion Brummitt, Western Carolina

All-Conference Third Team
Derrick Henry, The Citadel
Diante Baldwin, UNCG
R.J. White, UNCG
Darius Jones-Gibson, Samford
Fletcher Magee, Wofford


All-Freshman Team
Zane Najdawi, The Citadel
Matt Rafferty, Furman
Francis Alonso, UNCG
Wyatt Walker, Samford
Fletcher Magee, Wofford


Malcolm U. Pitt Player of the Year
Stephen Croone, Sr., G, Furman

Freshman of the Year
Fletcher Magee, Wofford

Anton Foy Coach of the Year
Matt McCall, Chattanooga



Jordan Caskey, Furman Sports Information