JMU roundup: Dukes’ Cooke, Nation earn third-team All-CAA honors

Daily Staff Report – sports@nvdaily.com

BALTIMORE – Sophomore guards Charles Cooke and Andre Nation each represented James Madison with Third Team All-CAA honors as the Colonial Athletic Association held its postseason awards banquet Thursday at the Baltimore Inner Harbor Marriott on the eve of the 2014 CAA Championship at Baltimore Arena.

Towson senior forward Jerrelle Benimon was a repeat selection as the CAA Player of the Year after leading the nation in double-doubles (20) and rebounding (11.7 per game). Delaware head coach Monte’ Ross earned CAA Coach of the Year after directing the Blue Hens to a regular season title. William and Mary’s Omar Prewitt was Rookie of the Year, Northeastern forward Scott Eatherton was Defensive Player of the Year and William and Mary forward Tim Rusthoven was the Dean Ehlers Leadership Award winner.

Cooke and Nation were the only sophomores among the 16 All-CAA honorees with two juniors and 12 seniors. JMU’s second-leading scorer, Cooke ranks ninth in the league with 14.3 points per game while having reached double figures 23 times and achieving 20 points on six occasions. He was JMU’s leading scorer in 10 of 30 games with a career high of 25 in a December win at High Point. He is 10th in the league with a .416 field goal percentage.

In addition to scoring, Cooke sits 16th in the league with 5.0 rebounds per game, third with 1.4 steals per game and 10th with 34.9 minutes played per game. His .724 free throw percentage ranked 11th in the CAA while his 139 free throws made sits fifth. He set new JMU sophomore class records for free throws made and attempted (192) and tied the class mark for steals with 42. He was named to the E-Tech Lumberjack Classic All-Tournament Team after averaging 20.5 points in a pair of losses in Texas.

The only player to rank in the top 10 in conference games for points, steals and blocks, Nation leads JMU with 15.2 points per game. His 2.2 steals per game in 13 contests are the best in league play by over half a steal per game. His .483 field goal percentage and 1.0 blocks per game are both the best among all guards in conference games, ranking fifth and sixth overall. He is also 18th in CAA games with 5.3 rebounds per game. Nation’s seven steals in a Feb. 15 home win over North Carolina-Wilmington tied the JMU single-game record.

One of the league’s top defenders, Nation was just two votes shy of receiving recognition on the five-player All-Defense Team. Cooke was right behind in seventh among the defensive vote recipients. In addition, sophomore guard Ron Curry was 20th among all players for All-CAA voting while freshman guard Jackson Kent was seventh for All-Rookie consideration.

JMU finished sixth in the CAA at 6-10 while accumulating an overall record of 11-19. The Dukes received the No. 7 seed in the tournament and will face No. 2 Towson (22-9, 13-3 CAA) at 6 p.m. Saturday in the quarterfinal round. Live TV coverage will be available on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic-Plus as well as Comcast SportsNet New England, California, Northwest and Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS). Philadelphia Over-the-air digital channel 10.2 will also have the game.

Tournament action begins Friday at 7 p.m. with a first round game between No. 8 Hofstra and No. 9 North Carolina-Wilmington.