March 11, 2003
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -
Junior guard Jacoby Atako has been selected Big West Defensive Player of the Year, and junior guard Nick Jones has been selected co-Hustle Player of the Year, the Big West Conference announced today.
A point guard, Atako was one of the key components to a UCSB team that allowed opponents to score just 60.4 points per game overall and shoot just 41.3% from the field. In Big West games, the Gaucho defense was even better, allowing opponents a league-leading 56.1 points per game and 39.8% shooting from the field. Atako is averaging 4.9 points and 3.2 assists per game. He also leads the team in steals with 36.
Jones, an Honorable Mention All-Big West selection, averaged 12.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game. His non-stop energy and emotional style on the court are important part of UCSB's success. Last year, Jones was named Big West Tournament Most Valuable Player after helping the Gauchos to their first-ever tournament championship.
The awards accorded Atako and Jones add to the list of UCSB's postseason Big West awards. Yesterday, Branduinn Fullove was selected Big West Player of the Year and First Team All-Big West, Mark Hull was chosen First Team All-Big West, and head coach Bob Williams was picked as the Big West Coach of the Year for the second time in his first seasons.
UCSB, which finished the regular season with a 17-12 overall record and a 14-4 Big West mark, will take its first-ever Big West regular season championship and a top-seed into the first round of the Big West Tournament on Thursday. The Gauchos open against eighth-seeded Pacific, at 2:30 p.m. in the Anaheim Convention Center.