March 10, 2014
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Mountain West announced Monday afternoon its 2014 all-conference awards, and Colorado State juniors Daniel Bejarano and J.J. Avila were honored with second-team and third-team All-Mountain West nods, respectively.
Bejarano, the 2013 MW Sixth Man of the Year, earned a second-team all-conference award after sliding into a starting role for the Rams in 2013-14. One of the most versatile players in the conference, he ranked among the league's top 10 in nine different statistical categories including second in the MW in scoring at 18.8 points per game, and ninth in rebounding, pulling down 7.7 rebounds per contest.
"I don't think there are five better players than Daniel Bejarano; I've never been prouder of a guy who didn't even start last year, and developed a new role," said Eustachy. "I think, first and foremost, that it's terrific for him and I know his teammates are happy for him because they helped him get it. But he earned it, because I've never had a guy work harder in between seasons. Never, ever. So I'm really proud of Daniel."
A native of Phoenix, Ariz., who transferred to CSU after his freshman season at Arizona, Bejarano recorded double-figures scoring in 16 of 18 conference games, including 10 20-point outbursts. He also notched three double-doubles in conference play, and flirted with the program's first triple-double on two separate occasions, going for 24 points, 10 boards and seven assists in the Rams' 75-57 win over UNLV (Feb. 5), and notching 20 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in a Border War win over rival Wyoming on Feb. 22.
Avila earns his first recognition from the Mountain West. He transferred to Colorado State after beginning his playing career at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he was named the Patriot League Freshman of the Year in 2011. He returned to the court for CSU this season after not competing collegiately during the 2012-13 campaign while attending South Texas College in his hometown of McAllen, Texas, and immediately made an impact for the Rams. The team's top scorer overall this season (16.8 ppg), Avila ranked eighth in the MW in scoring (14.9 ppg) and also ranks seventh in rebounding (8.3 rpg) and assists (3.3 apg).
"I think it's quite an accomplishment for him, for sitting out all last year and making third team," added Eustachy of Avila's third-team recognition. "That makes him one of the top 15 players in the league. The great thing is they (Avila and Bejarano) are both back (next year)."
Avila reached double-figures scoring in 14 of 16 league games, including four 20-point contests against MW foes, and also eclipsed the 30-point plateau twice during non-conference play. He posted four games in league play with 10 or more rebounds, including a monster effort that included 13 points and 17 boards in the Rams' 76-57 victory over Fresno State on Jan. 11.
Bejarano and Avila lead the Rams into the 2014 Reese's Mountain West Championships this week at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nev. The ninth-seeded Rams face No. 8 Utah State in the opening round, looking to move closer to the league's tournament title and secure a third-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and a fifth-straight postseason berth overall.
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