MBB: Diawara rewarded for Dinos' perfect season

MBB: Diawara rewarded for Dinos' perfect season

Calgary guard is the 2018-19 CW Player of the Year

EDMONTON – Calgary's Mambi Diawara is the Canada West Men's Basketball Player of the Year after helping guide the Dinos to a perfect regular season.

The fifth-year guard was named the conference's top player ahead of this weekend's CW Championship, which is set for Saturday when the Dinos host the UBC Thunderbirds.

The conference's five major awards were selected by Canada West's 17 men's basketball head coaches.

Diawara played a starring role in the first undefeated men's basketball regular season in Calgary history, as he led the balanced Dinos in scoring with 17.9 points per game.

Joining Diawara as a major award winner from Calgary was his head coach Dan Vanhooren, who is the CW Coach of the Year.

The honour marks the second for Vanhooren at the Canada West level, after he took over the Dinos prior to the 2000-01 season.

Along with Calgary, Alberta had a pair of major award winners, as Adam Paige (G), and Dwan Williams (G) were named Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year respectively.

Manitoba's James Wagner (F) rounds out the winners, as the third-year is the Student-Athlete Community Service award winner.

Saturday's CW Championship Game, which is set for 1 p.m. MST, can be seen live on SaskTel max TV channels 49/349 in Saskatchewan, along with TELUS Optik TV on channels 998/9998 in Alberta and British Columbia.

The game is also available on Canada West TV.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Mambi Diawara

  • Calgary Dinos
  • Guard
  • 5th-year
  • Montreal, Que.
  • Arts

It's been quite the year for Mambi Diawara, who less than 12 months ago was hoisting the W.P. McGee Trophy as a national champion.

Now, Diawara is the Canada West Player of the Year after leading the defending CW and U SPORTS champion Calgary Dinos to a perfect 20-0 regular season.

The Montreal, Que. product led the Dinos in scoring this season, averaging 17.9 points per game, which was good for 10th in the conference.

Diawara also ranked inside the top 10 in conference steals with 42 (3rd), and free throws with 95. The veteran's impressive numbers came in limited action when compared to the conference's other leading scorers, as his 26.1 minutes per game was the lowest amongst anyone inside the top 12.

The Arts student is the first Dino to claim the conference's top honour since Thomas Cooper back in 2015-16.

Coach's comments:

“This award is well-deserved. Mambi’s game is dynamic and he sacrificed a lot of his game this season in order for our team to be successful. As a result, his efficiency level is extremely high when it comes to points per minute, and that has served us so well. He could have put up bigger numbers. It’s an amazing accomplishment for Mambi to be recognized as CW Player of the Year.” - Calgary Head Coach Dan Vanhooren.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Adam Paige

  • Alberta Golden Bears
  • Guard
  • 1st-year
  • Surrey, B.C.
  • Arts

Adam Paige is the Canada West Rookie of the Year after making major contributions for the Alberta Golden Bears.

Paige played all 20 games for the Bears as a first-year player, finishing fifth on the team in scoring, averaging 8.7 points per game.

The Surrey, B.C. product played more than 23 minutes per game for Alberta, who finished with a 15-5 record.

Paige is the latest Bear to win the conference's top honour for first-year players, joining teammate Brody Clarke, who claimed the honour back in 2015-16.

Coach's comments:

"Adam has impressed us with his poise and performance in many big games all season long. He continued to improve all season long and we saw some exceptional play from him in the Canada West playoffs.” – Alberta Head Coach Barnaby Craddock.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Dwan Williams

  • Alberta Golden Bears
  • Guard
  • 4th-year
  • Toronto, Ont.
  • Arts

Dwan Williams' tenacious defence has been rewarded, as the fourth-year guard has been named the Canada West Defensive Player of the Year.

Williams was a key contributor to the Alberta Golden Bears this season, as his defence helped the team to a 15-5 regular season record. Alberta gave up the second fewest points in the conference this season, allowing 72.5 points per game.

The Toronto, Ont. product was one of the most well-rounded players in the conference, registering 43 defensive rebounds, and 37 assists, while playing just over 20 minutes per game.

Coach's comments:

"Dwan has been defending our opponents best player since he was a freshman. He's an outstanding defender and a winner. We're all fortunate to get to see someone compete with such passion defensively on every possession.” – Alberta Head Coach Barnaby Craddock.

STUDENT-ATHLETE COMMUNITY SERVICE: James Wagner

  • Manitoba Bisons
  • Forward
  • 3rd-year
  • Winnipeg, Man.
  • Science

Forward James Wagner does it all for the Manitoba Bisons on and off the court, and has been rewarded as the CW Student-Athlete Community Service award winner.

Wagner finished second on the Bisons in scoring, averaging 14.2 points per game, while leading the team in rebounds per game with 6.5.

In the classroom, Wagner had a perfect GPA during the fall semester, and has averaged a 4.25 GPA during his three seasons at Manitoba.

Away from campus, Wagner volunteers at the Siloam Mission, which provides support to Winnipeg's homeless community. He is also engaged in the U of M Athletes Council, helping with a variety of community outreach programs.

Coach's comments:

“This is a great honour for not only James, but for our program. I think it says a lot that he’s the first in the history of the Bison men’s basketball program to win this prestigious Canada West award and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving young man."

“James is the epitome of what a student-athlete is and what, I think, U SPORTS is all about. He obviously performs incredibly well at every stage and we’re very proud that James is a model for our program, for Bison Sports, and for what a Canada West athlete should be.” – Manitoba Head Coach Kirby Schepp. 

COACH OF THE YEAR: Dan Vanhooren

  • Calgary Dinos
  • 19th season

For the second time in his career, Dan Vanhooren is the Canada West Coach of the Year.

The Calgary Dinos head coach previously claimed the honour back in 2014-15, and earns the win this season after guiding the Dinos to a perfect 20-0 regular season mark.

Calgary's spotless record was the first in program history, as the Dinos dominated the competition during their CW and U SPORTS title defence.

Athletic director's comments:

“Following up on a U SPORTS national championship with an undefeated season is no easy feat. Dan continues to lead a program that has become the hallmark of consistency over the past decade in Canada West. His ability to bring out the best from his student-athletes on a daily basis is a testament to culture that he has developed within the Dinos. Fiercely passionate about student-athlete development, he has established levels of expectation that fuel performance on the court and in the classroom.” – University of Calgary Director of Athletics Jason Kerswill.

About Canada West

Since 1972, Canada West (CW) has been a leader in Canadian university sport, working to provide our student-athletes the opportunities to excel in sport, the classroom, and their communities. CW and our 17 members from across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba collectively carry on a legacy of competitive excellence, as our champions proudly go on to represent the conference at U SPORTS national championships.

Canada West – training leaders, building champions.