April 5, 2009

Banks tabbed MVP at men's basketball end-of-season banquet

GREELEY, Colo. -- Northern Colorado senior Jabril Banks laid claim Sunday night to two final collegiate awards.

Banks, who will go down as one of the best to ever play for the Bears and this season became the program's first player to earn All-Big Sky Conference distinction, was honored Sunday at Northern Colorado's second-annual end-of-season banquet as the team's Top Rebounder this season and as this year's recipient of the Mike Higgins Team MVP award.

Banks was joined on the awards stand by senior Robert Palacios (Bear Pride Award), juniors Yahosh Bonner (Best Defender) and Will Figures (Top Assist Player), and sophomore Devon Beitzel (Most Improved).

About 100 fans and family members of Northern Colorado players, coaches and support staff were in attendance Sunday to celebrate what was truly a historic season for the Bears and head coach Tad Boyle.

"We did some incredible things this year, and we've got a bright future ahead of us," Boyle said, "but tonight is about looking toward next season and beyond. Tonight is about reflecting on what we accomplished this season ... and we accomplished so much and took so many steps as a program."

Boyle's Bears, among other accomplishments this year, qualified for their first Big Sky Conference postseason tournament after ending the year 8-8 in league games, became just the third Northern Colorado team since 1990 to finish at or above .500 in conference play, and improved their overall win total for a third straight season.

And none of it would have been possible without the contributions of this year's graduating seniors, Matt Dunsmoor, Palacios and Banks. All three were specially honored Sunday, and it was clear the impact each has had on Boyle and his assistant coaches.

On more than one occasion, Boyle had to compose himself when talking about the trio.

"I can't talk about any of these guys for very long, because I know I'll tear up," Boyle said. "All three of these guys has just meant so much to me and this program. We've all gotten to see some great performances from these guys, and I'm truly going to miss coaching them and seeing them grow as young men."

2008-09 NORTHERN COLORADO MEN'S BASKETBALL HONOREES

  • Top Rebounder -- Jabril Banks
  • Best Defender -- Yahosh Bonner
  • Most Improved -- Devon Beitzel
  • Top Assist Player -- Will Figures
  • Bear Pride -- Robert Palacios
  • Mike Higgins MVP -- Jabril Banks