Stewart Premier MVP at age 42
THE BEST OF ADRIAN STEWART really isn’t getting old. Even if he is. Cougars’ evergreen swingman just became the oldest player to be awarded the Premier League’s highest individual honour after the prolific 42-year-old walked away with the Most Valuable Player trophy during Sunday’s Barbados Amateur Basketball Association’s awards ceremony at Island Inn.
It proved the highlight of a quaint yet star-studded prize-giving gala that honoured every individual and team winner from the just-concluded 2013 season.
None, though, were as big as Stewart, who was recognized for one the truly outstanding individual efforts that saw the small forward finish second in the league in scoring (21.1 ppg), fourth in assists (4.9) and 16th in rebounding (8) to be just one of two players to place in the top 20 of all three categories.
But it didn’t come without challenge, as the seasoned vet won the award in probably the toughest crowd after beating out Lumber Company Lakers star Andre Lockhart (20.4 ppg, 5.8 apg), prolific Smalta Pinelands combo guard Jeremy Gill (22.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.4 apg) and Urban Vybz Sonics forward Akeem Marsh (17.7 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 2.1 bpg).
Stewart is also the first Cougars player to receive top-flight basketball’s highest honour while leading the once downtrodden club to its debut play-off appearance this season.
However, he wasn’t the only Cougars forward to be acknowledged on the night, with frontcourt mate Ricardo “Howard” Jemmott copping the coveted Dunk Of The Year prize for a huge one-handed throwdown over schoolboy forward Jae Harris early in the season.
Lakers still managed to take the lion’s share of awards in that division after collecting their fourth league title in seven years while getting further acclaim through Lockhart, Keefe Birkett and Francis Williams, who won the play-off MVP, Sixth Man Of The Year and Coach Of The Year awards respectively.
Gill made up for missing out on the MVP trophy by collecting the Best Offensive prize for leading the league in scoring, while teammate Charles Vanderpool was the Best Defensive Player for the second year running.
Warriors big man Nicholai Williams (16.7 ppg, 12.2 rpg, 2.6 bpg) – who probably got edged by Vanderpool for that trophy – was named the Most Improved Player.
Prolific combo guard Toni Atherley also had to settle for a pair of individual awards (MVP, Best Offensive) after her UWI Blackbirds finished as runners-up to Station Hill Cavaliers in both the league and knockout competitions.
And that wasn’t the extent of the Lady Cavs’ winning, as overseas-based pro Jamila Studer took home the Play-offs MVP award while long-time frontcourt mate Wanda Agard-Belgrave copped the Best Defensive Player prize.
Warrens’ first-year utility player Tiffany Thorpe rounded out the award winners in that division by being adjudged the Most Improved Player.
There were also major awards for Shawn Grosvenor (Plus Garrison Chargers) and one-time national captain Zahir Motara (Warrens), who won the MVP trophies for Intermediate and Third Division, respectively.