MidAmerica Nazarene forward Luke Thomas and Park University guard Xavielle Brown were selected for the NAIA Division I men’s All-America third team announced Tuesday.
Thomas, a senior from Raymore-Peculiar, led the Pioneers to the semifinals of the NAIA tournament, posting double-doubles in all four games.
For the season, Thomas averaged 20.3 points per game and led the nation in rebounding, 13.2, and in double-doubles with 30 in 37 games. Brown averaged 19.8 points per game
Forward Charlie Wallrapp of Benedictine and guard Sedrick Johnson of Avila received honorable mention.
Guard Devin Griffin of Columbia was a first-team selection along with two players who appeared in Tuesday night’s NAIA championship game: Emmanuel (Ga.) guard Michael Stanley and Vanguard (Calif.) guard Preston Wynne.
Guard Dominique Rambo of Southwestern Assemblies of God (Texas), which lost in the first round of the national tournament, was voted player of the year.Slam-dunk to stay
NAIA president and CEO Jim Carr said the organization was pleased with the inaugural slam-dunk and three-point contests and NAIA All-Star Game that was part of this year’s tournament activities.
“We got a lot of good feedback from the slam-dunk with a guy like Tyler Inman (of Southwestern Christian Univeristy) went viral in terms of a lot of people picking it up on the internet, so it’s here to stay,” Carr said. “We may think about whether (Saturday) is the right time, but we’ll keep it.”Counting the house
With Wednesday night’s finals drawing 3,410 fans, the tournament drew 37,682 — and average of 4,185 per session. The attendance was boosted by a Friday night crowd of 6,325 fans — the largest for a session since the tournament returned to Kansas City in 2002 — for Benedictine’s second-round game.
A crowd of 4,582 attended the Monday night semifinals featuring MidAmerica Nazarene.
“Local teams bring a lot of fans and that adds to the atmosphere of the arena,” Carr said. “When people are rooting for certain teams, it brings some energy.”
A year ago, the tournament drew 37,109, and Carr’s goal is to reach 40,000 a season.
“I don’t see any reason why we can’t do 40,000,” he said. “That would be a good number for us.”