PRINCETON, N.J. -- Ivy League men's basketball's top teams produced this season's top honorees with Harvard junior guard/forward Wesley Saunders named Player of the Year, Princeton freshman forward Spencer Weisz named Rookie of the Year and Brown sophomore forward Cedric Kuakumensah repeating as Defensive Player of the Year.
Saunders (Los Angeles) becomes just the third Harvard player to earn the Ivy League Player of the Year honors joining Joe Carrabino in 1983-84 and Keith Wright in 2010-11. In addition, he was a unanimous selection as first-team All-Ivy for the second-straight season as voted by the League's head coaches.
An all-around performer for the Crimson all season, Saunders ranks among the conference's top 10 in several statistical categories -- eighth in scoring (14.0 ppg), third in assists (3.9 apg), first in steals (1.7), 10th in field goal percentage (46.6 percent ), sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7), tied for ninth in blocks (0.8 big) and fourth in minutes (33.7 mpg). He was named Ivy League Player of the Week three times and earned Most Valuable Player honors at the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout after averaging 14.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists.
Weisz (Florham Park, N.J.) made a big impact in his freshman campaign and was rewarded for his efforts as the sixth Tiger to be tabbed Ivy League Rookie of the Year, joining Brian Taylor (1970-71), Bob Roma (1976-77), Rick Hielscher (1991-92), Chris Young (1998-99), Konrad Wysocki (2000-01).
Starting 12 of Princeton's last 18 games, Weisz scored the eighth-most points (258) in school history since freshmen became eligible in the 1978-79 season. He is the Tigers' fourth-leading scorer (9.2 ppg) and posted 13 double-digit scoring games. His 63 assists are the most for a Princeton freshman since Marcus Schroeder had 87 in 2006-07 and his 136 rebounds are the most for a Princeton freshman since Young had 160 in 1998-99.
Kuakumensah (Worcester, Mass.) picked up where he left off last year as the League's top defensive presence. He joins Cornell's Jeff Foote (2008-09 and 2009-10) as the only players to be named Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons. The Lomé, Togo native added more offense to his game this season (8.9 ppg), to go along with a rebounding average of 7.0 per game, and earned honorable mention All-Ivy recognition.
Swatting shots at a record-setting pace, Kuakumensah is just three blocks away from eclipsing the League's single-season record of 92 held by Dartmouth's Brian Gilpin in 1994-95. His 3.2 blocks per game rank sixth nationally. In just two seasons, Kuakumensah is already 12th in conference history with 156 career rejections to his credit. He has recorded seven blocks in a game three times already in his career, sharing the school's single-game mark with Andrew McCarthy.
Joining Saunders as first-team All-Ivy selections are Brown senior guard Sean McGonagill (Brookfield, Ill.), Columbia junior forward Alex Rosenberg (Short Hills, N.J.), Princeton senior guard T.J. Bray (New Berlin, Wis.) and Yale sophomore forward Justin Sears (Plainfield, N.J.). Bray was the only other unanimous selection and McGonagill was the only repeat selection on the first team.
While Kuakumensah anchored the Bears in the frontcourt, McGonagill worked his magic on the perimeter to cement his standing as one of the best backcourt players in school history. Once again, he was one of the League's most prolific offensive threats during the regular season -- second in scoring (17.7 ppg) and first in three-pointers per game (3.3), fourth in assists (3.8 apg) and second in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.2). McGonagill's brilliant career includes the most three-pointers in school history (247), which ranks sixth all-time in League history, and most games started in school history (113), which ranks tied for third in League history.
Bray closed the regular season just five points shy of becoming the 30th player in school history to reach 1,000 points. A second-team pick a year ago, he led the League in scoring in all games (18.3 ppg) and was third in scoring in conference games (19.2 ppg). Bray will graduate as the only player in school history with three 100-assist seasons since assists became an official statistic in the 1974-75 season.
Rosenberg and Sears joined Bray as newcomers on the first team. Rosenberg ended the regular season having scored in double figures for his last 26 games and just 16 points away from becoming 26th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau. Sears becomes the first Yale sophomore to earn first-team All-Ivy recognition since Chris Dudley in 1984-85 after posting a breakout season that places him among the League leaders in scoring (17.1 ppg, 3rd), rebounding (7.2 rpg, 3rd), field goal percentage (.511, 6th), steals (1.3 spg, 6th) and blocks (1.9 bpg, 2nd).
Three Harvard players with previous All-Ivy honors to their credit -- sophomore guard Siyani Chambers (Golden Valley, Minn.) and senior guard Laurent Rivard (Saint-Bruno, Quebec, Canada) and junior forward Steve Moundou-Missi (Yaounde, Cameroon) -- dot the second team. Last year, Chambers was Rookie of the Year and the first freshman to named to first-team All-Ivy, while Rivard and Moundou-Missi received recognition as honorable mention. Collecting their first All-Ivy selection, Columbia sophomore guard Maodo Lo (Berlin) and Penn senior forward Fran Dougherty (New Britain, Pa.) round out the second team.
Including the honor mention selections, Harvard led the way with six All-Ivy honorees, followed by Brown, Columbia and Yale with two each. The Crimson's six All-Ivy players matches the most in League history with Penn's six (two on the first team, three on the second team and one honorable mention) in 1994-95.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Wesley Saunders, Harvard (Jr., G/F - Los Angeles)
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Spencer Weisz, Princeton (Fr., F - Florham Park, N.J.)
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Cedric Kuakumensah, Brown (So., F - Worcester, Mass.)
FIRST TEAM ALL-IVY
Sean McGonagill, Brown (Sr., G - Brookfield, Ill.)
Alex Rosenberg, Columbia (Jr., F - Short Hills, N.J.)
*Wesley Saunders, Harvard (Jr., G/F - Los Angeles)
*T.J. Bray, Princeton (Sr., G - New Berlin, Wis.)
Justin Sears, Yale (So., F - Plainfield, N.J.)
SECOND TEAM ALL-IVY
Maodo Lo, Columbia (So., G - Berlin)
Siyani Chambers, Harvard (So., G - Golden Valley, Minn.)
Steve Moundou-Missi, Harvard (Jr., F - Yaounde, Cameroon)
Laurent Rivard, Harvard (Sr., G - Saint-Bruno, Quebec, Canada)
Fran Dougherty, Penn (Sr., F - New Britain, Pa.)
HONORABLE MENTION ALL-IVY
Cedric Kuakumensah, Brown (So., F - Worcester, Mass.)
Nolan Cressler, Cornell (So., G - Pittsburgh)
Brandyn Curry, Harvard (Sr., G - Huntersville, N.C.)
Kyle Casey, Harvard (Sr., F - Medway, Mass.)
Javier Duren, Yale (Jr., G - St. Louis)