Abdur-Rahim named ASUN Coach of the Year
Feb. 27—Kennesaw State's Amir Abdur-Rahim has been named the ASUN Coach of the Year, and three members of his squad have been recognized for conference superlatives.
Brandon Stroud was selected as the conference Defensive Player of the Year, while Chris Youngblood and Terrell Burden were selected to the first and second team all-conference respectively.
Abdur-Rahim was named the top coach after taking an Owl team picked eighth in the preseason coach's poll to the top of the league with a 15-3 record in the ASUN, which earned KSU the No. 1 seed in this week's conference tournament.
The previous best finish for the Owls in the ASUN was a tie for fourth in the 2016-17 season. KSU also rewrote its record book for most wins in every category as a Division I program. The Owls finished the regular season with a 23-8 overall record, which is nine wins over the previous program record for wins and this is the team's first winning season. KSU's 15 league wins were five more than the previous record of 10-10, while the Owls are tied for fourth in the nation with 10 road wins (10-6), four more than the 2016-17 team's road mark of 6-13.
Stroud, a junior, was one of the best overall players in the ASUN and was the only player in the conference to rank in the top 10 in both rebounding (seventh — 6.5 rpg) and steals (sixth — 1.5 spg). In conference play, he raised his steal average to 1.72 per game, which ranked him third among league players. Stroud led the Owls in rebounding in a team-high 13 games and reached double-figures in rebounds in six games, including three times against conference opponents. He was a key factor in helping the Owls finish the regular season ranked first in the conference for steals per game in both overall and league only games. The Owls' 257 steals are currently the fourth-most in a season in school history. Stroud is also one of the top scorers on the team, ranking fourth with nine points per game, and twice earned ASUN Player of the Week honors during the season.
Youngblood, a junior, is one of the most explosive scorers in the conference. He reached double-figures in 25 games this season and in all 18 conference games. He currently ranks 11th in the conference in scoring at 15 points per game. and posted six 20-plus point performances, including four in ASUN games. Youngblood turned in one of the best games of his career when he scored 22 points on 8-of-9 shooting in KSU's home win over Liberty on Feb. 16, while he also came up with a huge steal and dunk in the final minute to help the Owls rally past Stetson 82-81 in overtime for a big road victory Jan. 19. One of the top shooters in the conference, he ranks sixth in both free throw percentage and 3-point percentage.
Burden, a former Campbell High School standout, was the heart and soul of this year's KSU team and led numerous second-half comebacks with a resume of game-winning shots. In back-to-back games in which KSU trailed by double-digits in the second half, Burden scored 16 of his eventual 19 points in the second half. That included five straight points in the final two minutes that gave KSU the lead for good in the home win over Liberty. In the Owls' 2-0 road trip to Florida, he scored back-to-back winning points, first with the winning basket with under 10 seconds left, and then followed with a block on Stetson's last shot in the overtime victory. He followed that two days later with the winning free throws to break a tie game with 30 seconds left in a 65-63 win at FGCU. Burden finished the regular season ranked fourth in the league with 4.16 assists per game, while his 129 assists for the season are the fourth-highest in school history. He also ranks 17th in the ASUN in scoring average 13.2, and second in steals with 1.71 per game, and his 53 steals for the season ties him for fourth-most ever in a season at KSU.
The Owls are the No. 1 seed in the ASUN tournament, and will face either Queens or Florida Gulf Coast on Tuesday, at 7 p.m. in the quarterfinal round.