COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- In an otherwise dismal year for Southeast Missouri State University men's basketball, the performance of Derek Winans was undoubtedly the Indians' brightest light.
And Tuesday, on the opening night of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament, Winans was rewarded by earning OVC Freshman of the Year in voting by the league's coaches and sports information directors.
"I tried not to think about it, but I've heard other people talking about me maybe winning it so it was in the back of my mind," Winans said.
Entering Tuesday's contest at Tennessee Tech, Winans was eighth in the conference in scoring at 14.9 points per game after he scored in double figures in 21 of 27 games. Winans ranked among the OVC's top 20 players in nine statistical categories.
"Derek has just had a tremendous freshman season and he is very deserving of this honor," Southeast coach Gary Garner said. "I would have been really surprised if he didn't win this award because he was definitely the best freshman in the league. He's got a great future ahead of him."
A 6-foot-2 guard from Shawnee (Ill.) High School, Winans entered Tuesday's action leading the Indians in scoring, 3-pointers (52), steals (39), assists (76) and minutes played (34.7) while ranking third in free-throw percentage (80.0) and rebounding (4.7).
Winans, who was also picked for the all-OVC third team, said he entered his rookie collegiate season with plenty of confidence and redshirting last year helped considerably.
"It was hard to sit out my first year and not play, but getting to practice with the team and getting used to college was probably the best thing for me," he said. "I had confidence I could play well at this level."
Winans not only excelled on the court this season, but he also had a 4.0 grade-point average for the fall semester, as did true freshman guard Brett Hale. Winans has a 4.0 cumulative GPA for his first three semesters at Southeast.
Winans was the only Indian to make any of the three all-OVC squads.
Chase on second team
Despite once again leading Southeast's women in scoring, junior forward Lori Chase failed to repeat on the all-OVC first-team as she instead made the second team.
Chase was averaging just over 16 points per game entering Tuesday's league tournament contest at Austin Peay.
Domercant top player
Eastern Illinois junior swingman Henry Domercant, the nation's second-leading scorer (26.6 ppg), is the OVC Player of the Year.
Tennessee Tech junior center Damien Kinloch is the Newcomer of the Year as he was fifth in the league in scoring (16.9 ppg), second in rebounding (8.4 rpg) and third in field-goal percentage (59.2).
Tennessee Tech's Jeff Lebo, whose squad ran away with the OVC regular-season title, won Coach of the Year honors for the third straight season, the first time that has ever happened in the conference.
On the women's side, top honors went to Tennessee Tech's Janet Holt (Player of the Year), Morehead State's Laura Litter (Coach of the Year) and Murray State's Rebecca Remington (Freshman of the Year).
Holt won the Player of the Year award an unprecedented third straight time as she topped the league in scoring (23.6 ppg) and rebounding (8.7 rpg).