Cameron Delaney was named the Southland Conference Player of the Year on Monday by the league office, highlighting the all-Southland Conference postseason selections.
Along with Delaney, Kai Mitchell was also named the league’s Newcomer of the Year. Additionally, Delaney was named to the all-SLC first team, while his brother Josh Delaney and Mitchell each landed on the all-SLC third team.
Sam Houston State, which claimed the regular season title with a 16-2 record, was the lone team with three players named to the all-SLC teams, and the only team to claim multiple superlative awards.
Cameron Delaney is the fourth Bearkat all-time to win the league’s top individual honor and the first since Gilberto Clavell did so in 2011. He was the team’s leading scorer for the year with 13.4 points per game, also averaging 5.5 rebounds per contest. Delaney also was one of the most accurate shooters in the league, hitting 48.1 percent of his shots from the field and 43.6 percent form 3-point range, canning 72 triples on the year and also hitting 72-for-88 (81.8 percent) from the foul line.
He was even better in conference play as a senior, ranking ninth in the league in SLC-only games with 15.6 points per game while also ranking 10th in those games in rebounding (6.3 rpg). Delaney’s deadly shooting eye was on point against league opponents where he buried a league-best 49.1 percent (52 of 106) of his 3-pointers, but also was seventh in overall shooting accuracy from the field, hitting 50.6 percent of his shots.
“He didn’t even start last year, but we had an injury and he started three games in CIT and I think that made a big difference for him,” head coach Jason Hooten said. “He has worked so hard, and you love to see those kinds of stories have a positive ending because hard work pays off. I can’t think of a guy more deserving. It’s nice to see the best player off the best team get the recognition.”
Delaney reached double figures in scoring in 23 of 31 games this season, including 15 of 18 league games. Six of those games saw him surpass the 20-point mark, including setting a career high with 25 points twice in wins over UIW and Houston Baptist.
Meanwhile, Mitchell was one of the steadiest players the Kats featured all season after joining the team for the 2018-19 year from Hutchinson CC. He is the fifth Bearkat to win the league’s Newcomer of the Year honor and the first since Jabari Peters did so in 2014.
He averaged 12 points and ranked sixth in the league with 7.3 rebounds per game for the year, hitting 54.1 percent from the floor, a mark that ranks fourth in the SLC.
“We were fortunate and blessed to sign a guy who makes an immediate impact in Kai,” Hooten said. “He’s been well deserving of the honor, because he really is a team guy. Some nights he really scores, and other nights he makes unbelievable passes. He just fits our system so well and he is so coachable, but he also brought us a lot of toughness that has benefitted us well.”
He had six double-doubles on the season, and 15 games in which he pulled in at least eight boards. Mitchell set a season high with 21 points in a double-OT victory at Abilene Christian on Feb. 9, getting a bucket late in the first OT period to extend the game. One game later he provided the game-winning free throw in a 70-69 victory at A&M-Corpus Christi.
For Josh Delaney, the all-SLC honor is the first of his career, and a well-earned nod after putting together his best season as a Bearkat. For the year he averaged a career-high 10.3 points and 4.8 assists per game, but it was when SHSU moved him into the starting point guard role in late December – just prior to SLC play – that the team really took off.
He started at point guard for the first time on December 22 at Utah Valley, going for 15 points and 10 assists, and never relinquished the job from there. With him running the offense the Kats put up a 16-3 overall record, with his 6.0 assists per game in SLC-only games being the best mark of all players in the league.
“I was so happy for Josh to get this recognition,” Hooten said. “He has stepped up in big moments, like Saturday night at SFA and his big game against ACU. He has been our rock and the difference in our team and taking it to a whole other level. We know how important he is to us and our team.”
He posted a career-high 30 points in a league-opening victory over Abilene Christian on Jan. 5 and equaled that on Feb. 23 in a double-OT win over Houston Baptist. For the season he hit 35 percent from 3-point range and with his five triples on Saturday moved past Bearkat great Corey Allmond for fifth all-time at SHSU with 196 made 3-pointers for his career. He needs just four more makes to become only the third Bearkat in history to reach 200 made 3-pointers.
With their league championship in tow, the Bearkats will enter this week’s Southland Conference Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed and receive a double-bye to the event’s semifinals.
They will open up the event on Friday at 5:00 p.m. at the Merrell Center in Katy against either No. 8 HBU, No. 5 Lamar or No. 4 New Orleans.