Two Columbia College basketball players were recognized by Central Valley Conference coaches Sunday for their outstanding play in 2013-14.
Freshman forward Tige Wingo, who overcame nagging injuries all season, was one of 10 players selected by conference coaches to the All-CVC first team. Wingo was also named the Co-Freshmen of the Year along with Chris Ross from College of the Sequoias.
"It's always a great accomplishment to be voted on by the other coaches in conference," said Columbia first-year head coach Rob Hoyt. "Obviously, they think highly of Tige. Being voted as the top freshman in the whole conference is a pretty great accomplishment for him, especially considering his (injury) background."
Rafe King, a 3-point specialist from Carson City, was picked to the All-Freshman Team and was named honorable mention. King was two votes shy from earning a spot on the first team.
"It's great for both of them," Hoyt said. "They're great people and it's fun to be around them. Players make you a better coach. Being able to get those two guys really was a staple on the recruiting class. They're both coming back next year. I'm really excited about that."
Wingo, a 2011 Summerville graduate from Twain Harte, played and started in all 27 games and completed his first full year of playing basketball since high school.
In the past two seasons, Wingo's time on the court ended prematurely with injuries.
But not this year.
The powerful 6-foot-5, 230-pound forward battled several ankle, knee and foot injuries throughout the year, and although his setbacks caused him to lose a lot of explosiveness in his game, it did not affect his play down the stretch. Wingo emerged as a team leader and blossomed into a complete player despite playing fewer minutes as the season progressed.
"He could have quit, but he didn't," Hoyt said. "He really worked hard on staying healthy, and we worked together. Him having the year he had was fun for me knowing his background. I'm really happy for him."
In 12 conference matches, Wingo finished second on the team and ninth in the CVC in scoring, averaging 13.7 points per contest. He was also the sixth-leading rebounder in the conference with more than six grabs per outing.
"I was grateful I made it through the whole season," Wingo said. "It was nice nothing serious happened. It's always nice to do well. Obviously, it's an individual award. It's good but it doesn't mean a whole lot. I was lucky to have a good season, and hopefully, next year will be the same."
Wingo was also among one of the top shooters from the free throw line, converting 80 percent of his shots (48 of 60).
"He's becoming a better leader," Hoyt said. "He's more vocal. He did a little bit of everything. He handled the ball well. He passed well. He shot well. Overall, he was great. He was by far the best freshman in the conference."
For King, the freshman guard led Columbia in scoring and was fourth in conference with nearly 15 points per game this season. In 24 appearances, he sank 80 shots from beyond the arc and finished third in CVC play with a 41 percent 3-point shooting mark. Nearly 67 percent of his points came from deep range.
King's 80 3-point baskets made as a freshman catapulted him into the all-time, single-season Top 10 in Columbia history. The 80 shots during the regular season are also the sixth most in the state.
"He's one of the best shooters I have coached," Hoyt said. "He only played 24 games and hit 80, which is a ridiculous number. I think he did a great job for a freshman."
Others selected to the First Team were: DeVonte Jenkins (West Hills-Coalinga), Chris Ross (Sequoias), Brantley Bynum (Sequoias), Walter Orr (Reedley), Andre Frazier (Reedley), Colton Hafey (Fresno), Jarred White (Porterville), Chris Minor (West Hills-Coalinga) and Chris Smith (Sequoias).
The All-Freshman Team also included: Bynum, Orr, Smith, Adam Armstead (Porterville), Aaron Deatherage (Merced), Jermaine Crowder (Merced), Malik Muhammad (Porterville) and Justin Senou (West Hills-Coalinga).
With King and Wingo expected to return for their sophomore seasons, Columbia will be better positioned to make a run at its first CVC title since 1996.
"I think the year of experience will be key and will determine how well we do as a team next season," Wingo said. "We have a pretty good base established. I think moving forward in the future, it's pretty bright."