March 8, 2010

Johnson, Williams Earn Top Big West Honors

March 8, 2010

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara sophomore guard Orlando Johnson was named 2010 Big West Player of the Year and head coach Bob Williams was named Big West Coach of the Year, it was announced Monday.

Johnson was also a First Team All-Big West choice. Fellow sophomore James Nunnally was a Second Team All-Big West selection.

A transfer from Loyola Marymount, Johnson enters the Big West Tournament leading UCSB and the conference in scoring at 18.0 points per game. He also averaged 5.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 48.5% overall and 39.6% from 3-point range. A two-time Big West Player of the Week, Johnson is the first Gaucho since 1996-97 to score in double-figures in every regular season game. In addition, the 6-foot-5 native of Seaside, Calif., has scored 20 or more points nine times and he has two double-doubles.

"Orlando was very deserving," Williams said. "He made a ton of big shots and made a ton of big plays for us. He's tough to guard outside and tough to guard inside, he shoots it and he can rebound, and he wants to be coached."

Johnson is the fifth UCSB player to earn the Big West Player of Year award. He joins Brian Shaw (1988), Lucius Davis (1992), Branduinn Fullove (2003), and Alex Harris (2008). Fullove was a junior when he won the honor, the only non-senior of the four previous honorees.

Nunnally is averaging 14.8 points and 5.5 rebound per game overall, but in 16 Big West games he averaged 16.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting a league-leading 48.3% from 3-point range.

"James had a phenomenal league season," Williams said. "He made the move to the four-spot and did a great job. He was our leading scorer in eight of 16 conference games and our leading rebounder in nine. There is no question how important he is to our success."

For Williams, the Coach of the Year honor was his third during a 12-year tenure at UCSB. He also won the award in 1999 and 2003. In 2009-10, he guided the Gauchos to their second conference co-championship in three seasons and the No. 1 seed in the Big West Tournament. After losing its league opener at UC Irvine, Santa Barbara won 13 of its last 16 games overall, including 12 of 15 league contests.

"I'm honored," Williams said. "When your peers reward you in this way, it is a good thing."

The Gauchos will begin Big West Tournament play at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Mar. 12 at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena. Their opponent will not be determined until Thursday night's quarterfinal games are completed.

To purchase tickets to the Big West Tournament please call (805) 893-UCSB, visit the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or click here.

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