HADLEY, Mass. – Jordan Sears '18 of the 15th-ranked Wesleyan men's basketball team was named the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year and Austin Hutcherson '21 was named the Rookie of the Year, as voted on by the conference coaches, while Jordan Bonner '19 received Second Team praise when the league office released its All-Conference Teams on Wednesday.
Sears is the first Cardinal to receive the Defensive Player of the Year award. He has been a force all season long and currently ranks third in the conference and 31st in the country in total blocks (51), while also checking in at third in the league and 38th in Division III in blocks per game (1.9). He had six games of four or more blocks, with his most impressive performance coming in the NESCAC Quarterfinals against Middlebury in which he stuffed a career-high eight shots despite guarding All-NESCAC First Team selection Jack Daly the majority of the game. He also ranks third in the conference in total steals (39) and offensive rebounds (65).
The Plainfield, N.J. native is a staple in Wesleyan's stifling defense in which the Cardinals lead the country in field-goal percentage defense (36.4), rank second in total blocks (153), third in blocks per game (5.7), 13th in defensive rebounding (31.11), and 10th in scoring defense (63.7). His ability to shut down the NESCAC's most prolific scorers helped guide Wesleyan to their second conference finals and third NCAA Tournament appearance in the past four years.
Hutcherson has excelled in his first season donning the Cardinal uniform. The 6-6 guard from Freehold, N.J. is the second Cardinal to receive Rookie of the Year laurels, joining Wesleyan's all-time leading scorer, Sasha Brown '13 (2010). Hutcherson has started 24 of the team's 27 games and ranks third on the squad in scoring (11.1), while his 40.4-percent mark from 3-point range is ninth-best in the league. He is also hitting 82.1-percent of his free throws, which ranks fourth in the NESCAC, and his 33 steals and 22 blocks rank eighth and ninth, respectively. Hutcherson posted a season-high 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting and went 7-of-9 from downtown in a 71-61 win over Brandeis on Dec. 9.
Bonner, a two-time NESCAC Player of the Week, receives his first all-conference nod after another stellar season for Wesleyan. The team's leading scorer ranks ninth in the league with an average of 15.2 points per game. He also leads the NESCAC in free-throw shooting, hitting 84.5-percent (87-103), while his 59 three-pointers are fifth best. Bonner has started every game for the Cardinals and averages 28.9 minutes per game which ranks ninth in the conference.
Wesleyan earned its second-consecutive at-large bid and third NCAA postseason berth in the past four seasons with a 21-6 overall record. The 21 wins are a program record. The Cardinals will also host first and second round action for this first time in program history this Friday, March 2 and Saturday, March 3. Wesleyan will tip-off against Southern Vermont on Friday at 7:30 p.m.