Men’s Hoops: Catamounts Come up Big as America East Announces Awards

Courtesy Vermont Sports Information

BOSTON, MA. — The University of Vermont men’s basketball team had four student-athletes and its head coach earn All-America East honors. The league announced its year-end award winners and All-Conference Teams on Friday morning.

The Catamounts won four out of the five major awards – Cioffi Men’s Basketball Head Coach John Becker was named Coach of the Year, Anthony Lamb was selected as the Player of the Year, Ben Shungu was chosen as the Defensive Player of the Year, and Ryan Davis was picked as the Sixth Man of the Year.

Becker guided the Green and Gold to a 24-7 overall record and 14-2 mark in conference play. The Cats became the first team in league history to win four consecutive outright regular season conference titles. He is the first America East coach to receive Coach of the Year honors four years in a row and he is now the all-time leader with his fifth Coach of the Year award. Vermont produced a 12-game winning streak during the league slate, which was the fourth-longest conference streak in the country. The Cats also hit the 14-win mark in America East play for the fourth straight season.

Lamb is the fourth Catamount to earn Player of the Year honors in back-to-back seasons, joining former stars Taylor Coppenrath, Marqus Blakely, and Trae Bell-Haynes. Lamb was one of the top scorers and rebounders in the league this year. He ranks fifth in rebounding with 7.3 boards per game and seventh in scoring with 16.5 points per game. The 6-6 forward scored 10-plus in 13 out of 16 conference games with seven 20-point efforts. He recorded a season-high 33-point night in an 86-75 win at UAlbany on Feb. 1. The Rochester, New York native became only the ninth player in league history to record over 1,800 career points and 700 career rebounds. Lamb was a selected to the All-Conference First Team for the second time in his career.

Ben Shungu is the fifth player in program history to receive Defensive Player of the Year honors and first since Dre Wills in 2017. He also landed on the All-Defensive Team. The Rice Memorial product currently sits second on the team behind Lamb with 5.1 rebounds per game. He set a career high with 10 rebounds at New Hampshire on Jan. 29 and nearly logged his first-career double-double with 16 points and nine boards at Stony Brook on Feb. 20. He has tallied 16 steals this year, the fifth-most on the team.

Ryan Davis is the third Vermont student-athlete to be named Sixth Man of the Year. Cam Ward was a two-time winner in 2015 and 2018 while Darren Payen earned the award in 2017. Davis paced his conference rivals with a 55.6% field goal percentage in league play. The Schaumburg, Illinois native led UVM’s reserves with 9.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He registered nine double-digit scoring performances against America East teams including a career-high 22 points at Maine on Jan. 22. He scored the game-winning layup in a 69-68 victory at Hartford on Feb. 8.

Stef Smith joined Lamb as the only set of teammates on the All-Conference First Team. Smith leads all America East outside shooters with a 49.5% conference three-point percentage. He is among the top offensive threats with a 13.8 conference scoring average. The 6-2 guard had 14 games with at least three triples made this year.

Top-seeded Vermont will host eighth-seeded Maine in the America East Quarterfinals on Saturday (March 7). The opening tip is set for 7 p.m. on the hardwood of Patrick Gym. All of the action will be streamed on ESPN+ and ESPN app with a paid subscription. Fans can watch the game on ESPN+ with a paid subscription. Fans can also listen live on the Vermont Sports Network, from Learfield IMG College, on 101.3 The Game or online at Catamounts All-Access with Jake Marsh on the call. The first 1,500 fans will receive a free t-shirt courtesy of Vermont Mutual Insurance.