CHARLOTTE – Three Gardner-Webb men’s basketball standouts earned All-Big South Conference honors Monday afternoon, as the league announced its annual postseason honors in advance of the 2017 Big South Conference Men’s Basketball Championships.
Point guard Laquincy Rideau (West Palm Beach, Fla. / Ely HS) and forward Tyrell Nelson (Charlotte, N.C. / Metrolina Christian Academy) earned second-team All-Conference honors. Guard David Efianayi (Orlando, Fla. / Ocoee HS) earned a spot on the honorable mention All-Conference team.
Nelson, who carries a 3.40 cumulative GPA in Communications Studies, was also named to the Big South Conference’s All-Academic Team for the third consecutive season.
Gardner-Webb is the only program in the league to have three student-athletes earn a spot on one of the three All-Conference teams.
Rideau came into his own quickly in his first season as a starter, leading Gardner-Webb in scoring at 13.9 points per game – and leading the Big South in assists (163) and steals (94). He also pulled down an impressive 5.6 rebounds per game.
The 6-foot-1, 204-pound sophomore currently ranks No. 2 nationally in total steals and is the only player in the Big South to rank among the league’s top-11 in scoring (9th), rebounding (11th), assists (1st) and steals (1st).
Rideau was very effective in Big South play, dishing off 100 assists in those 18 games and posting three of his four 20-point games against league foes. In Gardner-Webb’s four-game win streak to close out the regular season, Rideau averaged 15.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game – powering Gardner-Webb’s offense to a crisp 80.8 points per game.
Rideau’s ball-hawking skills defensively have produced new school records for single-game steals (10 vs. Presbyterian on January 21) and single-season steals (94). His 10 steals vs. the Blue Hose tied a 1987 Big South record for steals in a league game.
Rideau also had a career-best game with 12 rebounds vs. Radford on February 15 and scored a career-high 23 points at Pittsburgh on November 14. He finished with double figures scoring in 15 consecutive games to close out the regular season and hit double figures 24 times overall this past season.
Rideau was also runner up for the 2017 Big South Conference Defensive Player of the Year award.
Nelson earned second-team All-Big South Conference honors for the second season in a row. Nelson was also named to the Big South’s All-Freshman team in 2014 and has been a member of the All-Academic Team in each of the past three seasons.
The 6-foot-7, 235-pound veteran is Gardner-Webb’s Division I era leader in points (1,642) and rebounds (855) – and ranks eighth in scoring and fifth in rebounding overall in program history.
Nelson ranked second in the Big South in field goal percentage this season at 53.8 percent and was tied with Efianayi for second on the team in scoring (13.0 ppg). Nelson ranked fifth in the league in rebounding (6.9 rpg) and scored in double figures 25 times.
He had his two best games of the season on national television, scoring a season-best 24 points to go with nine rebounds in Gardner-Webb’s win at Nebraska on ESPNU. Nelson also had a strong game on ESPNU in February, scoring 19 points and pulling down 13 boards in a win over UNC Asheville in his final home game at Paul Porter Arena.
The lone senior on Gardner-Webb’s roster, Nelson is set to graduate in May with a degree in Communications Studies.
Efianayi enjoyed a true breakout season on the wing, ranking second on the team with 13.0 points per game. He was one of the top sixth men in the country over the first 18 games of the season – averaging 12.5 points off the bench – but continued to excel in a starting role once he moved into the lineup in mid-January.
Efianayi shot an efficient 52.6 percent from the floor and put up a team-high 20.3 points per 40 minutes played. He scored 20 or more points six times, including a career-high 31 points off the bench vs. Eastern Michigan on November 18.
One of the team’s best on the break, Efianayi shot 60 percent or better in 11 different games and was one of two Gardner-Webb players to make at least 100 free throws on the season (107).
The three selections to the All-Conference teams are the most for Gardner-Webb since joining the Big South in 2008-2009.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs (18-13, 11-7 Big South) finished in fourth place and will begin play in the 2017 Big South Conference Championships on Thursday night at 9:00 pm in Rock Hill, S.C. The ‘Dogs will take on No. 5 seed High Point in the quarterfinals, which will stream live on ESPN3 (WatchESPN.com) from the Winthrop Coliseum.
Gardner-Webb and High Point split their regular season series for the second season in a row – with both teams winning on the road.