Photo by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor
With the conclusion of one of the best seasons in school history, the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (27-4, 17-1) now turn their focus to the Conference USA tournament. Before that however, three Blue Raiders were honored with all-conference awards for their standout seasons.
Senior JaCorey Williams was a first-team, all-conference member after a season in which he lead MTSU in both scoring (17.5 points per game) and rebounding (7.4 boards per game). After the season opener against Milligan, head coach Kermit Davis called for Williams to be more active on the glass and he did not disappoint.
Williams posted 11 double-doubles this year and showed an offensive dominance that few had shown in a Middle Tennessee uniform. This was on full display during the Challenge in Music City tournament that saw Williams put up big numbers against three different teams. After a 16-point performance against UNC-Wilmington in the tourney opener, Williams put up a career-high 31 points to lead the Blue Raiders to a 73-70 overtime win over Toledo. Williams closed the tournament with a 25-point, 10-rebound double-double against Evansville as Middle Tennessee swept all three games to win the tournament.
Fellow senior and four-year Blue Raider Reggie Upshaw was named to the all-conference second team. Upshaw continued his role as a do-it-all player by averaging 14.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. In his final year as a Blue Raider, one thing Upshaw improved most was his free throw shooting. This was a well-documented problem for the entire team last year, but Upshaw added over 20 points to his free throw percentage, finishing the year with a career-best 71 percent free throw percentage.
The best game of his Blue Raider career came against the UAB Blazers when he scored a career-best 34 points to lead the Raiders to a victory on New Year’s Day. When Middle struggled to find offense from other places, Upshaw stepped up and scored over half of the team’s total points in a 60-49 win.
Finally, junior Giddy Potts made the all-conference third team. Potts followed up his stellar sophomore campaign with an even more well-rounded junior season, finishing second on the team in scoring with 15.5 points per game and third in rebounding with 5.5 boards per game. Potts also recorded a personal-best 39 steals during the regular season.
Potts turned his game up against some of the best competition the Blue Raiders faced this year. In a road effort at VCU, Potts led the Blue Raiders with 25 points on 5-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Potts was also the driving force behind the dominating 71-48 win against in-state rival Vanderbilt, recording 27 points and nine rebounds. His best game of the year however came against the Owls of FAU when he put up a career-high 30 points to lead MT to a 93-59 victory.
These three will lead MT into the Conference USA tournament in Birmingham this weekend as they will defend their conference championship. They will play the winner of USTA-WKU on Thursday at 11:30 a.m.