UT Martin’s Heather Butler was named the 2013-14 Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year while teammate Jasmine Newsome was selected as the OVC Defensive Player of the Year. The Skyhawks’ Ashia Jones was tabbed as the Freshman of the Year and Coach of the Year honors went to Jacksonville State’s Rick Peitri.
Butler, a native of Medina, Tenn., earns OVC Player of the Year honors after being selected as the 2010-11 Freshman of the Year. She becomes the sixth player in league history to win both awards in a career. The first team All-OVC selection has rewritten the league record books this year. She became the OVC’s all-time leading scorer earlier this year as she broke Tennessee Tech’s Cheryl Taylor’s mark that had stood for 27 years. The senior guard currently has 2,811 career points to rank 20th on the NCAA all-time list. Butler became just the 21st player in NCAA history to eclipse the 2,800 point mark for her career. She also recently set a new OVC all-time three-pointers made mark with 381 career triples so far this year. She has reached double-digits in every game of her career for a streak of 126 straight contests. In the regular-season finale against Austin Peay, Butler tied a school single-game record with 44 points and nine three-pointers made. Butler is leading the OVC with 24.1 points per game this year which also ranks 9th in the nations. She is the third different Skyhawk to earn Player of the Year honors joining Jasmine Newsome (2011-12, 2012-13) and Zabrina Harris (1998-99).
A native of Millington, Tenn., Newsome earns her second straight and third overall Defensive Player of the Year award. She becomes the first player in league history to win the honor in back-to-back years and the first to earn the award three times. The senior guard leads the league and ranks 18th in the nation with 2.8 steals per game this year. A first team All-OVC selection, Newsome also ranks fourth in the OVC with 19.1 points per game. Earlier this season, she tied the school’s single-game record with 44 points versus Quinnipiac. She became just the second player in school history to reach 2,000 points in her career. Newsome currently has 2,512 career points to rank third all-time in league history and needs just 15 points to move into second place. She also has dished out 167 assists for 5.8 per game to rank second in the league this year. Newsome closed out the regular-season setting a new UT Martin single-game mark with 14 assists five double d
Jones, a freshman forward from Covington, Tenn., leads the league with a 59.3 field goal percentage. She is recording 12.9 points per game this year and has reached double-figures 17 times, including last 14 games. Jones has scored 20 or more points six times, including hitting a career-high 27 twice this year. She also ranks 11th in the OVC with 6.3 rebounds per outing. So far this year, she has recorded five double-doubles. Jones is just the second Skyhawk to earn Freshman of the Year honors joining Heather Butler in 2010-11. In addition to being named the Freshman of the Year, Jones picked up All-OVC second team and All-Newcomer honors.
Peitri was tabbed the OVC Coach of the Year after leading his team to its first OVC Tournament berth since 2011. In his first year at the helm of the Gamecocks, Peitri led a team that won one game last year to an 8-8 OVC mark and a 12-17 overall mark this season. The eight conference wins are the most for a JSU team since the 2007-08 season. The last time Jacksonville State finished .500 or better in league action was in 2004-05 when it went 9-7. Jacksonville State enters the tournament having won three out of its last five, including a 71-69 overtime victory over Belmont in the regular-season finale.
Joining Butler and Newsome as first-team selections are Tennessee Tech junior guard Diamond Henderson. Eastern Kentucky senior guard Marie Carpenter earns first team honors after being selected to the All-Newcomer team as a freshman in 2011-12 while Belmont’s Jordyn Luffman is a first time All-OVC selection.
A native of Nashville, Tenn., Carpenter ranks second in the league with 21.5 points per outing and a 84.7 free throw percentage. She also ranks among league leaders in three-point field goal percentage (40.8%) and three-pointers made (2.8 per game). Her 1,572 career points rank just behind Butler and Newsome among active leaders.
Henderson, a Kennesaw, Ga. native is third in the OVC with 19.7 points per game this year. She is also among the league’s top 15 in field goal percentage (45.7), assists (3.1 apg), free throw percentage (77.1%) and steals (1.3 spg). Henderson has recorded double-figures in points in all but two games this season, including hitting a career-high 37 versus Jacksonville State.
A product of Lawrenceburg, Tenn., Luffman is 11th in the OVC with 14.4 points per game while ranking seventh in rebounds, bringing down 7.0 boards each time out. She is also among the league’s top five in free throw percentage (84.4%) and three-point field goal percentage (40.7%).
Joining Ashia Jones on the 2013-14 All-OVC second team as first time honorees are Eastern Illinois junior forward Sabina Oroszova (Bratilslava, Slovakia); Jacksonville State junior guard Candace Morton (Lexington, Ky.); Tennessee State junior forward Chelsea Hudson (Midland, Texas); and Morehead State junior guard Almesha Jones (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Oroszova ranks in the league’s top 5 in points (17.0 ppg) and rebounds (10.5) while Morton has put up 16.7 points per game for sixth in the OVC. Hudson is 8th in the conference with 16.0 points per game and is fourth in rebounds, bringing down 8.4 boards per contest. Almesha Jones has dished out a league-leading 174 assists for 6.0 per game this year.
Making up the All-Newcomer team with Ashia Jones are SIUE freshman forward Micah Jones (Cowden, Ill.); Belmont junior guard Taylor Mills (Corryton, Tenn.); Austin Peay freshman center Tearra Banks (Louisville, Ky.); and Murray State freshman guard Taylor Porter (Louisia, KY.)
Micah Jones ranks among league leaders with 10.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while Mills is second on the team with 8.8 points per outing. Banks is second in the league with a 52.7 field goal percentage and Porter is among the OVC leaders with 10.9 points each time out.
2013-14 All-Ohio Valley Conference Women’s Basketball Teams
(voted on by the league’s head basketball coaches and sports information directors)
Heather Butler, UT Martin *
Jasmine Newsome, UT Martin*
Marie Carpenter, Eastern Kentucky
Diamond Henderson, Tennessee Tech*
Jordyn Luffman, Belmont
Sabina Oroszova, Eastern Illinois
Candace Morton, Jacksonville State
Chelsea Hudson, Tennessee State
Almesha Jones, Morehead Stat
Ashia Jones, UT Martin
Ashia Jones, UT Martin
Micah Jones, SIUE
Taylor Mills, Belmont
Tearra Banks, Austin Peay
Taylor Porter, Murray State
OVC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Heather Butler, UT Martin
OVC FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Ashia Jones, UT Martin
OVC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jasmine Newsome, UT Martin
OVC COACH OF THE YEAR: Rick Peitri, Jacksonville State
* – 2012-13 First Team All-OVC