BRENTWOOD, Tenn.– The Tennessee State men’s basketball team received major accolades on Tuesday as the Ohio Valley Conference announced end of the year honors via Twitter. Dana Ford earned OVC Coach of the Year, Tahjere McCall (Philadelphia, Pa.) took home OVC Defensive Player of the Year, First Team All-OVC and All-Newcomer Team accolades, while Keron DeShields (Baltimore, Md.) earned First Team All-OVC and a spot on the All-Newcomer Team.
Ford, who at 31 years old is the youngest head coach in the country, has led the Tigers to the biggest turnaround in the nation this season. After posting a 5-26 record in Ford’s first season in 2014-15, TSU finished the 2015-16 regular season with a 20-9 record and secured the fourth seed in the upcoming OVC Tournament. It marks the third time a TSU coach has earned OVC Coach of the Year after Frankie Allen won the award in 1993 and was Co-Coach of the Year in 1995.
Ranking in the top 10 in the nation in steals (67) and steals per game (2.31), McCall is the first TSU player to win OVC Defensive Player of the Year since the award started in 2008-09. The 6-5 point guard has led the Tigers in assists 14 times this season and has been TSU’s top scorer in 12 games on the year. McCall, who transferred to TSU from Niagara prior to the 2014-15 season and sat out last year, is averaging 14.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.
DeShields leads TSU and ranks eighth in the OVC with 16.3 points per game. The transfer from Montana has scored in double figures 25 times in his first season on the court for the Tigers. The Baltimore, Md. native scored his 1,000th career point at the Division I level on Feb. 13 at Eastern Kentucky. He enters the upcoming OVC Tournament with 456 points on the season and 1,060 for his career.
With McCall and DeShields both making first team, it is the second time TSU has had two first teamers and first time since 1994-95 when Tim Horton and Monty Wilson were honored.
TSU is the fourth seed for the OVC Tournament and played in the quarterfinals on March 3 at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville.