GREENWOOD, Ind. –Behind a career season on the hardwood, junior Wes McKinney (Batesville, Ind.) of the Hanover men's basketball team was announced as the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Male Athlete of the Year Monday afternoon.
The prestigious conference award is in its fourth year of existence, with McKinney's award being the first honor for Hanover on the men's or women's side. McKinney was named HCAC Men's Basketball Player of the Year as well back in February.
Behind McKinney, who averaged a team high 18.7 points per game, as well as a conference high 8.3 rebounds per game, the Panthers enjoyed one of their top five overall seasons since the end of World War II. Hanover finished 26-4 overall, advancing to its first ever NCAA Tournament "Elite Eight" and winning both the HCAC regular season and tournament titles. The Blue and Red also finished seventh in the final 2016-17 D3Hoops.Com National Top 25 Poll.
To go along with his two yearly conference awards, McKinney also earned a pair of All-American accolades. At the end of February, the junior was named a second team Academic All-American by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) and later added a fourth team All-American selection by D3Hoops.
McKinney totaled more points during the 2016-17 season than any other player in the HCAC, accumulating 560 points. During his breakout season, the junior also surpassed the 1,000-career point plateau, moving into the top 30 all-time in Hanover's 117-year history.
The sharpshooter did a lot of his damage from behind the three-point line, where he made 74 attempts, falling just two makes shy of tying the school's single season record. McKinney made just under 2.5 three pointers per game, which was among the top five in the conference.
The two-time 2016-17 HCAC Player of the Week also led the conference in double-doubles with 11, while adding top five conference statistical marks in blocks per game (1.6), field goal percentage (.522) and points per game (18.7).
Highlighting the 2016-17 campaign was McKinney's buzzer beater at No. 18 Hope (Mich.), in front of a sellout crowd in the NCAA Tournament "Sweet 16". The Panthers erased an 11-point halftime deficit as McKinney's jumper from the left baseline as time expired gave the team a 79-77 victory.
The HCAC has given out both male and female athlete of the year awards since 2014 with the conference's sports information directors nominating and voting on the winners. Transylvania's Jordin Fender was named the 2016-17 HCAC Female Athlete of the Year.
Contact: Tyler Jester