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Men's Basketball - Wed, Feb. 26, 2014

KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Union College head men's basketball coach Kevin Burton was named the 2013-14 Appalachian Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, while seven Bulldogs earned spots on the 2013-14 All-AAC Teams, the league announced Wednesday evening.

The players nabbing spots on the All-AAC Teams included: forward Deante Johnson (All-AAC First Team), guard Tarik Smith (All-AAC Second Team), forward Fitzgerald White (All-AAC Third Team and All-Defensive Team), guard DeAntray Stevens (All-AAC Third Team), forward Gerard Newby (All-Defensive and All-Freshman Team), and guard Michael Bueter (All-Freshman Team).

Burton, who is in his second season as the head coach of the Bulldogs and 12th season overall as a collegiate head coach, has transformed a program that won eight games in the season before his arrival to one that has recorded one of the great seasons in program history in 2013-14.

In all, Union has already won 25 games entering the AAC Tournament, marking the second highest win total in a season in program history (the high mark is 27 set by the 1967-68 Bulldogs). During the year, the Bulldogs won a program-record 13 consecutive games, garnered a spot in the NAIA Division II Top 25 Coaches' poll for six straight weeks, and captured their first outright regular season conference title in over 40 years.

The team has already locked up a bid to next month's NAIA Division II Men's Basketball Championships, which will be played in Point Lookout, Mo., as well. It will mark the fourth time in program history that the Bulldogs will make the trip to a NAIA National Tournament.  

Individually on the All-AAC teams, Johnson leads the way, garnering Union's first spot on the All-AAC First Team since Turrell Morris earned the honor after the 2010-11 season.

Johnson, who leads all of NAIA Division II in field goal percentage at 69 percent, leads the Bulldogs in scoring averaging 16.3 points a contest and rebounding at 7.2 'boards per game. In all, the Cincinnati native has scored in double-figures in 24 games on the year, notching six double-doubles in the process.

Smith, a senior, earned a spot on the All-AAC second team for the second straight season, after garnering playing time in all 29 games on the year to date. He ended the regular season third on the team in scoring (12.6 points per game) and leads the squad in steals with 46.

White, a junior, has been a key contributor for the Bulldogs all season, his first in the program. In 24 starts, he has averaged 12.4 points per contest, nailing a team-best 47 three-pointers, while dishing out a team-high 91 assists. White has also been a part of a defensive unit that has forced the fourth most steals per game in all of NAIA Division II (9.8), as well.

Stevens, a sophomore, was inserted into the Bulldog line-up when the calendar turned to 2014, starting 14 games at point guard. He instantly contributed, averaging 16.1 points a contest, draining 39 three-pointers, while dishing out 71 assists. In all, Stevens has scored in double-figures in all but three games on his season so far (13 total).

Newby, a freshman, has logged significant playing time since the first game for the Bulldogs, leading the squad in blocked shots (27), while helping a defense that has been one of the best in the AAC all year. In all, the Bulldog defense has allowed the third fewest points per game in the league (74.7).

Fellow freshman Bueter has also seen lots of minutes since game one of his collegiate career, seeing action in all 29 games, while making 17 starts. He's averaged 10.2 points per contest, while leading the team in free throw shooting percentage at 81.3 percent for the season.

The 24th ranked Bulldogs will open the 2014 AAC Tournament on Thursday morning, playing eighth-seeded Point (Ga.) at the MeadowView Convention Center in Kingsport. Tip-off is set for 8:30 a.m.

 
 
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