Horton and Vinales Earn Postseason NEC Honors

Steve McLaughlin photo

Senior Ken Horton earned Northeast Conference First Team honors for the second straight season, and freshman Kyle Vinales became the second Blue Devil to win Rookie of the Year honors when the league announced its postseason awards on Monday.

Horton, last season's NEC Player of the Year, was named to the First Team for the second straight season.   He has now earned All-League honors three times in his four seasons.  As a freshman he was named to the All-Rookie squad.

Possessing a versatility in his game that ranks among the best to ever play in the conference, Horton has positioned himself in the top-15 of seven different NEC statistical categories.  The two-time Choice Hotels NEC Player of the Week currently leads the NEC with 2.1 steals per game, and ranks second in scoring (18.7), third in rebounding (8.9) and blocks (1.4), eighth in free throw percentage (.812), 12th in field goal percentage (.493) and 15th in made three-pointers (1.6/game). 

The Ossining, NY product has boosted his career scoring total to 1,941 points, which ranks seventh on the NEC's all-time list, and he sits 14th on the conference rebounding chart with 833 boards.  He joins NEC Hall of Famer Rik Smits (Marist) as the only two players in league history with 1,900+ points and 800+ rebounds in their careers.  Horton is the NEC's active career leader with 45 career games of 20+ points and nine 30+ point games.  When the 6'6" forward finished with 39 points, 13 rebounds, six steals and five assists against Mount St. Mary's on Thursday, it marked the first 30-10-5-5 game for an NEC player since at least the 1997-98 season.

Vinales, who was also named to the All-Rookie Team, bypassed the typical adjustment period of an incoming freshman as he literally exploded onto the scene for the Blue Devils last November. He scored 24 points in his first collegiate game and followed with a 39-point performance three days later against Niagara, which remains the highest single-game scoring output by a freshman in the nation this season.

What followed for Vinales was a star-studded year in which he matched the league record with eight Choice Hotels NEC Rookie of the Week awards, joining fellow NEC Rookie of the Year award winners Alex Blackwell (Monmouth, 1989-90), Charles Smith (Rider, 1993-94) and Darshan Luckey (Saint Francis (PA), 2002-03).

Hailing from Detroit, the 6'1" combo guard showcased his super-quick release and unlimited shooting range all year long to the tune of 18.0 ppg. He finished the regular season as the nation's leading freshman point producer and sits third overall on the NEC scoring chart. Vinales also proved to be an adept distributor with 3.6 apg, and ranks in the NEC top-10 in free throw shooting (.837, fourth), made three-pointers (2.5/game, fourth) and three-point percentage (.390, seventh).

With 504 points on the year, Vinales is the first CCSU freshman to score 500 points in a season. Shemik Thompson (2006-07) is the only other CCSU player to win NEC Rookie of the Year plaudits.