MELBOURNE, Fla. – Nova Southeastern has burst onto the scene in 2018-19, and as a result, was well represented on Thursday by collecting a combined six All-Sunshine State Conference awards, including SSC Coach of the Year and SSC Newcomer of the Year. The six total accolades were three more than any other SSC program.
Head coach Jim Crutchfield takes home his seventh career conference coach of the year honor, and first in the SSC, in the midst of a record-breaking season with the Sharks. Following an 11-win turnaround in year one at the helm, Crutchfield reset the bar once more in his second season in Fort Lauderdale. Through the quarterfinal round of the SSC Tournament, the West Virginia native has guided Nova Southeastern to a program-record 25 wins, including an 18-2 mark in the league, while leading the Sharks to the school’s first-ever SSC regular season title. Just three days from Selection Sunday, Crutchfield’s bunch also appears primed to host the NCAA South Regional in what will be the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance altogether.
The leader in both points (19.8 ppg) and rebounds (9.5 rpg) for the nation’s No. 3 team, Mark Matthews earns some well-deserved recognition after being touted the SSC Newcomer of the Year, along with landing on the All-SSC First Team and All-SSC Newcomer Team. In his first season with the Sharks, Matthews has proven to be a force in the paint, having already recorded 13 double-doubles, while ranking third in the SSC in field goal percentage (58.4%). The redshirt junior has scored in double-figures in all but one of his 27 starts this season, reaching the 20-point in 15 of those. Known more for his scoring and rebounding, Matthews’ passing ability is often underappreciated, yet he currently averages more assists per game (3.7 apg) than SSC Player of the Year Jonathan Lawton (Florida Southern). Matthews’ Newcomer of the Year honor is the second straight received by Nova Southeastern after David Dennis was selected for the award in 2017-18.
Speaking of Dennis, the Sharks’ point guard repeats as an All-SSC First Team member following an impressive senior campaign. In 27 starts this season, Dennis has filled up the stat sheet with 15.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, while his 5.7 assists and 2.7 steals per game rank tops in the SSC. Dennis has already been named to the Bevo Francis Award Top-50 Watch for the second consecutive season, and will close his Nova Southeastern career as one of only two players in NCAA history, across all divisions, with at least 1,800 career points, 600 career rebounds, 700 career assists, and 300 career steals.
Mikkel Kolstad, meanwhile, is selected to the All-SSC Newcomer Team after leading not only the SSC, but all of NCAA Division II in three-point shooting percentage (52.6%) in 2018-19. The junior from Norway has been deadly from beyond the arc, cashing in on 71 of his 135 total attempts, en route to his current 11.6 point-per-game average. Kolstad registered a season-high 25 points in a win over Embry-Riddle earlier this season, and has drained at least five triples in a single game seven different times.
“It’s always an honor to be recognized by your peers,” said Crutchfield. “I’m glad for Mark, David and Mikkel. Their honors were certainly deserved. I really appreciate the fact that even though they received individual honors, they still keep their priorities in order by keeping the team first.”
The aforementioned Lawton captured SSC Player of the Year honors, while Tampa’s Marco Downer swept both the Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year awards.
For a complete list of the All-SSC Teams, visit sunshinestateconferece.com.