FOREST, Va. --- Roanoke College forward Josh Freund and Randolph-Macon College mentor Josh Merkel headline the 2018 All-ODAC Men's Basketball Awards, announced by the ODAC on Friday morning. Freund was named the Kurt Axe Memorial Player of the Year, while Merkel received Bob Johnson Coach of the Year honors. Bridgewater College guard Dimetri Chambers was tabbed the ODAC Rookie of the Year, while Washington and Lee University forward Nicholas George earned ODAC/Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors in a vote of the league's sports information directors.
Just seven of last season's list of 18 All-ODAC honorees appear on this season's lists. Washington and Lee University forward Clayton Murtha heads that contingent with his second straight and third overall appointment to the first team. Connor Schroeder moved up to the first team from last season's All-ODAC Second Team.
Guilford College forward Carson Long received second team distinction following a first team selection in 2017, while Roanoke guard C.J. Miles repeats on the second team. Randolph College guard Ryan Fields earned a second straight spot on the All-ODAC Third Team, while Randolph-Macon forward Daniel Noe earned his spot on the third team after a second team honor last year. Emory & Henry College guard Colin Molden also appears on the third team after earning ODAC Rookie of the Year accolades a season ago.
RELATED: 2017 All-ODAC Awards | All-Time All-Conference
Freund, a junior from Charlotte, N.C., has been a near dominant force on the block for Roanoke, featured by a pair of ODAC Player of the Week awards and a national Division III Player of the Week honor from the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA). Freund is second in the conference in both scoring (18.4) and rebounding (10.4), helping him to a league-high 12 double-doubles. He leads the ODAC in field goals made (178-of-287), field goal shooting (.620), and defensive rebounds (185), while ranking third in free throws made (104-of-124), fourth in offensive rebounds (76), and sixth in free throw shooting (.839). Since the turn of the calendar, Freund has been especially effective in registering each of his conference-best three 30-point outings and nine double-doubles. His 19 rebounds at Bridgewater in mid-January are the most pulled down by an ODAC player this season. During Roanoke's nine-game winning streak on the way to the #2 seed in the ODAC Tournament, Freund averaged 20.6 points and 13.1 rebounds and shot 66-of-106 (.623) from the floor.
Merkel is in his seventh season as a collegiate head coach and third year guiding the Yellow Jackets program. This is his first ODAC top coaching honor and second conference coach of the year award after earning the same distinction from the Capital Athletic Conference in 2015 when he led his alma mater, Salisbury University, to its first 20-win season since 1997. Merkel has guided the Yellow Jackets to the top of the ODAC in 2018, boasting an 18-7 overall record and a 12-4 mark to capture the #1 seed entering the ODAC Tournament. R-MC is ranked second in the South Region in the latest (2/21/18) NCAA Division III regional rankings. Merkel owns a 114-71 (.616) overall record including a 48-30 (.615) mark in two-plus seasons at R-MC.
Chambers, a freshman from Savannah, Ga., pairs this honor with an All-ODAC Third Team selection after a strong first season as an Eagle. Chambers finished the year sixth in the ODAC in scoring (15.3) and fifth in overall points (398), but topped the league on the other side of the ball with the most steals (53) in the conference. He made the fifth-most three-pointers (58) and ranked ninth in both field goals (130) and free throws (80) made. He scored in double figures in 23-of-26 games played, registering seven games of 20 or more points including a season-best 28 markers against Eastern Mennonite in early February.
George, a senior from Charleston, W.Va., has put together arguably his best season on the floor and paired it with a stellar academic record. In the classroom, George maintains a 3.975 grade point average as an Economics and Mathematics double major. He is a multi-honoree on the All-ODAC Academic Team as well as a W&L Scholar-Athlete. He is a member of Washington and Lee's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and earned one of three Elizabeth B. Garrett Scholarships for economics in 2017. George was recently named CoSIDA Academic All-District, an honor he shares with teammate Clayton Murtha. Both will be eligible for Academic All-America consideration. On the floor, George is averaging a career-best 10.1 points per game to go with 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists per contest. He is tied for eighth in the ODAC in three-pointers made (52-of-133) and 16th in three-point shooting (.391). George is fifth on the W&L career list in three-pointers made (135-of-361) and ninth in career three-point percentage (.374).
Listed below is the complete set of 2018 All-ODAC Men's Basketball Teams. For more information, visit the websites of any of the participating schools, or go to the ODAC's home on the Internet at www.odaconline.com. Don't forget to become a fan of the ODAC on Facebook and follow @odacathletics on Twitter and Instagram.
2018 ALL-ODAC MEN'S BASKETBALL AWARDS
Kurt Axe Memorial Player of the Year: Josh Freund, Jr., F, Roanoke
Bob Johnson Coach of the Year: Josh Merkel, Randolph-Macon
ODAC Rookie of the Year: Dimetri Chambers, Fr. G, Bridgewater
ODAC/Va. Farm Bureau Scholar-Athlete: Nicholas George, Sr., F, Washington and Lee
|ALL-ODAC FIRST TEAM|
|Chase Branscomb||Sr.||F||Emory & Henry College|
|Marcus Curry||Jr.||F||Guilford College|
|Josh Freund||Jr.||F||Roanoke College|
|Devin Kearns||Jr.||G||Washington and Lee University|
|Clayton Murtha *||Sr.||F||Washington and Lee University|
|Connor Schroeder #||Jr.||F||Lynchburg College|
|ALL-ODAC SECOND TEAM|
|Montese Adams||Jr.||F||Randolph-Macon College|
|Carson Long *||Jr.||F||Guilford College|
|C.J. Miles #||Jr.||G||Roanoke College|
|John Shelor||Sr.||G||Emory & Henry College|
|Lamont Steward||So.||G/F||Virginia Wesleyan University|
|Alic Wynn||Jr.||F||Emory & Henry College|
|ALL-ODAC THIRD TEAM|
|Dimetri Chambers||Fr.||G||Bridgewater College|
|Malik Crute||Jr.||G||Hampden-Sydney College|
|Ryan Fields ^||Sr.||G||Randolph College|
|Roy McMillan||Jr.||F||Washington and Lee University|
|Colin Molden +||So.||G||Emory & Henry College|
|Daniel Noe #||Sr.||F||Randolph-Macon College|
|* 2017 All-ODAC First Team
# 2017 All-ODAC Second Team
^ 2017 All-ODAC Third Team
+ 2017 ODAC Rookie of the Year