HALIFAX (U SPORTS) – Thomas Kennedy of the Windsor Lancers has been named the winner of the Mike Moser Memorial Trophy as the most valuable player in U SPORTS men’s basketball. The announcement was made on Wednesday night at the All-Canadian Award Ceremony at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, site of the 2023 championship tournament.
Other major award winners include Simon Hildebrandt of Manitoba, who won the Dr. Peter Mullins Trophy as rookie of the year; Adam Paige of Alberta, who took home the Ken Shields award (student-athlete community service); David Muenkat of STFX, who was named the defensive player of the year; and Steph Barrie of Queen’s, who won the Stuart W. Aberdeen Memorial Award as the Fox40 Coach of the Year.
The 2023 U SPORTS Men’s Final 8 gets underway on Friday afternoon at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax. Play continues through to the gold medal game, which is set for 6 p.m. (Atlantic Time) on Sunday. All 11 games of the tournament can be viewed on CBC Sports digital platforms (English) and at usports.ca (French).
Mike Moser Memorial Trophy (most valuable player) – Thomas Kennedy, Windsor
Thomas Kennedy was unquestionably the most dominant player in OUA and U SPORTS men's basketball this year. A two-time OUA all-star, this year led the Lancers to a first-place finish in the OUA West division with a 16-6 record and the No. 6 ranking in the country.
He differentiated himself from other players in the country with his ability to impact games at both ends of the court. Offensively, he was a dominant scorer and rebounder in the low post, and he also controlled the defensive end of the floor with his tremendous rebounding and shot-blocking. The Windsor, Ontario native finished first in the country in both offensive and defensive rebounding.
In addition to his dominance on the boards, Kennedy finished in the top ten in the country in most major statistical categories. His 20.8 points per game average was ninth in Canada, as was his field goal percentage of 0.590. He was fifth in the nation in blocks, with 1.7 rejections per game. In addition, he set the University of Windsor men's basketball all-time scoring record with 1,479 points in only 83 career games. He also broke the school record for career blocks with 117.
“I am very proud of Thomas for achieving this award,” said Chris Cheng, the Lancers head coach. “This is a testament to his hard work and dedication to his craft. It has been such an honour and privilege to coach such a phenomenal individual and talented player.”
Other nominees: Elijah Miller (UPEI), Sidney Tremblay-Lacombe (Laval), and Diego Maffia (Victoria).
Dr. Peter Mullins Trophy (rookie of the year) – Simon Hildebrandt, Manitoba
Simon Hildebrandt becomes just the second men’s basketball player in U of M history to win national rookie of the year honours, the first since 1989-90 when Eric Bridgeland won the award. The Winnipeg product also became the first Bisons men's basketball player in Canada West history to win the award a few weeks back.
Hildebrandt was a major key to the Bisons' success this season, stepping onto Canada West court like he has lived there for the past four years. The rookie showed poise right away, establishing himself as a major scoring threat and leading his Bisons to the best record in the conference (18-2), the best record in Manitoba program history.
Hildebrandt averaged 16.5 points per game, sharp shooting 41.2 per cent from beyond the arc. He was steely nerved under pressure, setting a third program record this season, this time for consecutive free throws.
Hildebrandt excelled in every situation, helping his team overcome deficits or closing out close games. He pushed his Bisons to erase a seven-point lead in the final minute of a game against Brandon in January.
"We knew coming in that Simon was going to be an impact player for us," said Bisons head coach Kirby Schepp. "I think he's really embraced his role. He's exceeded even our loftiest expectations in terms of what he can bring on a nightly basis. The future is certainly very bright for Simon."
Other nominees: Marcus Barnes (UNB), Étienne Gagnon (Bishop’s), and Dezayne Mingo (Guelph).
Defensive player of the year – David Muenkat, STFX
A fourth-year forward from Brampton, Ont., David Muenkat averaged a double double this season, with 15.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. He led the AUS conference in defensive rebounds, averaging 7.3 per game, and added 1.4 steals per game.
The top rebounder in the conference, Muenkat led the X-Men to a 17-3 regular season record, a first-place regular finish, and the AUS championship title. He was honoured as the AUS tournament most valuable player and was named to the tournament all-star team.
In addition to being named the top defensive player, he was also named an AUS first-team all-star. Muenkat was the first overall pick in the 2022 CEBL draft and played last summer with Scarborough.
“David all year has been protecting the rim and rebounding the basketball. Anytime there’s a match-up where I feel we’re having trouble, David is the one I always go to,” said Tyrell Vernon, the X-Men head coach. “His versatility, what he does on the defensive end and what he’s capable of athletically, there’s nothing that he can’t do. We’re proud of him for everything that he’s done this season.”
Other nominees: Bahaide Haidara (UQAM), Khalil Miller (McMaster), and Anthony Tsegakele (Brandon).
Ken Shields Award (student-athlete community service) – Adam Paige, Alberta
Adam Paige earned the Student-Athlete Community Service Award due to his excellence on the court, in the classroom and in his community. Paige has been a central figure in the Golden Bears' program for the past four years. This season, the forward averaged 14.3 points per game and 6 rebounds per game while shooting over 40 per cent from beyond the arc.
He did this while maintaining a 3.5 GPA in his field of education. Paige is the epitome of a well-rounded student-athlete. His dedication to his studies and athletics do not deter him from finding time to lend a helping hand in his community.
Paige is a volunteer basketball coach for several youth teams in Edmonton, mentoring young athletes who excel under his tutor. He was also a role model to a grade two class where he spent time volunteer student-teaching. Paige further improved his community by packing and delivering food hampers to those in need.
His genuine care for those around him makes him an admirable athlete and citizen.
“Adam is an exemplary representative of the University of Alberta, Canada West and U SPORTS athletics. He excels on and off the court,” said Barnaby Craddock, the Golden Bears head coach. “An all-star on a nationally competitive program, Adam is also set to graduate from the Faculty of Education with a 3.5 GPA. On top of that, he’s a willing and keen volunteer, lending a hand wherever and whenever he’s needed. A leader in every sense of the word, Adam truly cares about being a positive influence in his community.”
Other nominees: John Alex Vos (UPEI), Charles Robert (Bishop’s), and Dezayne Mingo (Guelph).
Stuart W. Aberdeen Memorial Award (Fox 40 Coach of the Year) – Steph Barrie, Queen’s
Steph Barrie guided the Gaels to their best regular season record in more than 50 years this season, with Queen's finishing 17-5, tied for the second-best record in the conference.
In the postseason, Queen's opened their playoff campaign with a 98-85 win over the Western Mustangs at home before edging out the Brock Badgers by an 82-80 score in St. Catharines in a rematch of last year's Wilson Cup final. The Gaels were eliminated by Carleton, 93-86, on March 1 to bring their OUA postseason to a close, however they secured the at-large berth for the 2023 U SPORTS Men's Final 8 Championship Halifax.
The Gaels finished the regular season third in the OUA offensively, averaging 86.8 points per game, behind only Western and Windsor. Queen's was fourth in the conference (sixth nationally) in defence, giving up just 73.7 points per game on the other side of the court.
Prior to this year, Barrie led the Gaels to their most successful season in program history last year, advancing to the OUA Wilson Cup and the U SPORTS Men's Final 8 for the first time ever, where they finished fourth.
“A huge congratulations to Steph Barrie, who has built a successful culture for the Men’s Basketball program at Queen's through his commitment to creating an exceptional student-athlete experience," said Linda Melnick, the executive director of Queen's Athletics & Recreation. "The dedication and efforts of Coach Barrie have led to ongoing success for the team, culminating in two sequential appearances at the U SPORTS Men’s Basketball Final 8 Championship and the best regular season record for the program in more than 50 years this season. The recognition is a tremendous accomplishment and one that Steph is truly deserving of receiving."
Other nominees: Tyrell Vernon (STFX), Mario Joseph (UQAM), and Kirby Schepp (Manitoba).
2023 MEN’S BASKETBALL ALL-CANADIANS
First Team All-Canadians
|Thomas Kennedy||Windsor||F||4||Windsor, Ont.||Business Admin.|
|Diego Maffia||Victoria||G||3||Victoria, B.C.||Humanities|
|Elijah Miller||UPEI||G||1||Etobicoke, Ont.||Business Admin.|
|Coly Syllas||Queen’s||G||2||Kingston, Ont.||Arts & Science|
|Aiden Warnholtz||Carleton||G||4||Ottawa, Ont.||Health Sciences|
Second Team All-Canadians
|Mason Bourcier||Trinity Western||G||5||Kelowna, B.C.||General Studies|
|Simon Hildebrandt||Manitoba||F||1||Winnipeg, Man.||University 1|
|David Muenkat||STFX||F||3||Brampton, Ont.||Arts|
|Guillaume Pépin||Ottawa||F||4||Montreal, Que.||Marketing|
|Sidney Tremblay-Lecombe||Laval||F||3||Montreal, Que.||Sport Administration|
|Simon Hildebrandt||Manitoba||F||Winnipeg, Man.||University 1|
|Marcus Barnes||UNB||G||Kitchener, Ont.||Undeclared|
|Étienne Gagnon||Bishop’s||F||Longueuil, Que.||Sociology|
|Dezayne Mingo||Guelph||G||Hamilton, Ont.||Arts|
|Renoldo Robinson||Victoria||G||Montreal, Que.||Social Sciences|