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W&M rakes in major CAA honors

  • Nathan Knight and Dane Fischer hug
    Award winners:  Nathan Knight '20 became just the second player in league history to be named both the CAA Player and Defensive Player of the Year, while Dane Fischer was the fifth rookie head coach to garner the league's coach of the year honor.  W&M Athletics photos
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For the first time in 35 years as a member, William & Mary has the Colonial Athletic Association's Player, Coach and Defensive Player of the Year.

Nathan Knight, who is averaging 20.6 points and 10.5 rebounds a game, was named Player of the Year, the CAA announced Friday. He received 30 of the 41 votes cast by the CAA's coaches, sports information directors, and media members for Player of the Year.

Dane Fischer, in his first season on the Tribe's bench, was named Coach of the Year. W&M was picked seventh in the preseason poll but finished second. The Tribe's 21 wins are the program's most in the regular season since 1950.

Fischer received 23 votes, 13 more than runner-up Joe Mihalich of Hofstra.

Knight, who leads the conference with 47 blocked shots, also was named the CAA's Defensive Player of the Year. Knight became the Colonial's second player to be named Player and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. George Mason's George Evans was the first in 1999.

William & Mary became the third program, following Hofstra in 2019 and George Mason two decades earlier, to have three major award winners in the same season.

Knight is on pace to become the first Tribe player to average more than 20 points a game in consecutive seasons since Adam Hess in 2003-04. He is the program's second all-time leading scorer with 2,117 points.

Knight is second nationally in double-doubles this season with 22.

"When you pick up a stat sheet after every game, it's a double-double and it's 20-plus (points)," Fischer said. "He's just played phenomenal basketball all year. The other thing he's done really well is that he's committed to the defensive end of the floor.

"Part of his commitment to that end of the floor has been playing without fouling. There's been a few games he's been in foul trouble, but in the 31 games we've played to this point, he's fouled out once. That's been a real key for us."

Tribe forward Andy Van Vliet, averaging 13.3 points and 8.6 rebounds a game, made the All-CAA's third team. W&M guard Luke Loewe joined Knight on the All-Defensive team, marking the first time two W&M players achieved that honor in the same season.

Fischer became the fifth rookie head coach to be named CAA Coach of the Year. The most recent was VCU's Anthony Grant in 2007.

"He's an amazing coach, probably one of the best coaches I've ever had," Van Vliet said. "He's like a coach you want to do well for and play hard for. You don't want to disappoint him because he gives us so much. It's been better than I could have imagined."

Also Friday, Knight was named as one of five finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, which honors the top center in college basketball. It's the second year in a row Knight is among the five finalists. The others are Vernon Carey Jr. (Duke), Filip Petrusev (Gonzaga), Luka Garza (Iowa), and Udoka Azubuike (Kansas).

The winner will be announced on April 12 at The College Basketball Awards.

Desure Buie, Hofstra
Nate Darling, Delaware
Nathan Knight, William & Mary
Grant Riller, Charleston
Jordan Roland, Northeastern

Brian Fobbs, Towson
Matt Lewis, James Madison
Eli Pemberton, Hofstra
Marcus Sheffield II, Elon
Camren Wynter, Drexel

Kevin Anderson, Delaware
Allen Betrand, Towson
James Butler, Drexel
Isaac Kante, Hofstra
Andy Van Vliet, William & Mary

Jason Gibson, Towson
Hunter McIntosh, Elon
Shykeim Phillips, UNCW
Tyson Walker, Northeastern
Hunter Woods, Elon

Desure Buie, Hofstra
Brevin Galloway, Charleston
Nathan Knight, William & Mary
Luke Loewe, William & Mary
Dennis Tunstall, Towson

Player of the Year: Nathan Knight, William & Mary
Coach of the Year: Dane Fischer, William & Mary
Defensive Player of the Year: Nathan Knight, William & Mary
Rookie of the Year: Hunter McIntosh, Elon
Sixth Man of the Year: Nicolas Timberlake, Towson
Dean Ehlers Leadership Award: Desure Buie, Hofstra
Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Tareq Coburn, Hofstra