Melbourne, Fla. – Lynn University's men's basketball team garnered a trio of honorees on Thursday with the announcement of the 2018-19 All-Sunshine State Conference teams. Michael Baez was named to the All-SSC First Team, Jamal Palmer was an All-SSC Honorable Mention pick and Darius Moore was tabbed to the All-SSC Newcomer Team.
This is the first year Lynn has had three All-SSC honorees in one season since 2005-06, while Baez's selection to the First Team is the program's first since Aaron Harrison in 2014-15. All three Fighting Knights are garnering All-SSC plaudits for the first time in their respective careers.
After playing in a sixth-man role last year when he came to Lynn as a junior-transfer, Baez has exploded this season as a senior, starting in all 28 games. He leads the team and ranks fourth in the SSC in scoring at 18.3 points per game. Baez averages a team-high 31.3 minutes per game while shooting effectively from all areas of the floor, ranking in the top-3 on the team in field-goal percentage, 3-pt percentage and free-throw percentage.
Baez has been a consistent scorer for the Blue and White all season long, notching double figures in all but three games while scoring 20+ in 12 contests. His marquee outing was a career-high 38-point effort in a 99-98 overtime win over No. 16 Florida Southern, resulting in SSC Player of the Week honors the following Monday.
The Charlotte, N.C., product earns the second all-conference selection of his career after he was tabbed First Team All-South Atlantic Conference as a sophomore at Wingate University before transferring to Lynn the following season.
Palmer, who became the 12th player in program history to score 1,000 career points earlier this year, is not far behind his teammate in the scoring department, averaging a career-best 16.3 points per game this season (10th in the SSC).
Known for his ability to drive to the rim, the fourth-year senior has found a bit of range in his final campaign as he has knocked down nearly double the amount of 3-pointers this season (61) than in any of his first three seasons while doing so at a career-best rate (37.4%).
The Delray Beach, Fla., native closed out this season on a hot streak, scoring 15+ points in the last five games, including his second 28-point outing against the NSU Sharks this year.
Moore quickly proved his long-range scoring ability as the junior-transfer scored in double figures in his first six games as a Fighting Knight. He has been one of the league's most dangerous 3-point shooting threats all season, ranking third in the SSC and 28th around the nation in 3-pt field-goal percentage (43.5%).
Moore, a Division I transfer who played his first two years of college ball at Presbyterian College, handled starting point guard duties the majority of the season. In addition to his excellence around the perimeter, Moore ranks third on the team in scoring at 12.9 points per game and has dished out a team-high 86 assists on the season.
Jonathan Lawton of Florida Southern College has been selected SSC Player of the Year. NSU's Jim Crutchfield has been recognized by his peers as conference Coach of the Year. Marco Downer from the University of Tampa earns Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman Player of the Year honors while for the second straight year; NSU has captured Newcomer of the Year accolades with the selection of Mark Matthews.
Joining Lawton and Matthews on the All-SSC First Team is David Dennis (Nova Southeastern), Drushaun McLaurn (Eckerd College), and Baez. McLaurn highlights the repeat All-SSC performers with his third consecutive First Team honor, while Lawton and Dennis repeat as First Team members for the second straight year. All three athletes were named to the Newcomer Team during their careers, with Dennis being named Newcomer of the Year in 2017-18. Nashad Mackey (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University) and Brett Hanson (Florida Southern) repeat as Second Team selections from last year, as Daniel Mortensen (Barry University) moves up to Second Team from Newcomer Team honors in 2016-17.
View the SSC release with the full list of players HERE.
Player of the Year = Jonathan Lawton, Florida Southern
Defensive Player of the Year = Marco Downer, Tampa
Newcomer of the Year = Mark Matthews, Nova Southeastern
Freshman of the Year = Marco Downer, Tampa
Coach of the Year = Jim Crutchfield, Nova Southeastern