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Men’s basketball receives OVC honors

Just days before Belmont plays in its first OVC tournament, men’s basketball backcourt duo of Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson earned conference honors as well as coach Rick Byrd, as announced by the league office on Tuesday.

Clark was named OVC Co-Player of the Year, All-OVC First Team, and OVC Defensive Player of the Year, Johnson was named All-OVC First Team, and Byrd earned OVC Coach of the Year honors.

“Ian Clark has enjoyed the most successful individual career in Belmont basketball history and the co-Player of the Year award, the Defensive Player of the Year award and the first team all-conference spot simply adds to his legacy,” Byrd said.

Clark’s OVC accolades are announced after he was named a candidate for both the Naismith and Lou Henson National Player of the Year awards last week.

Clark currently ranks third nationally in three-point field goal percentage (.462) and fourth among all NCAA guards in field goal percentage (.543).

“This is Kerron’s second straight first team all-conference selection and he will also go down as one of Belmont’s greatest players ever. Very few guard tandems in college basketball have enjoyed the personal and team success that Ian and Kerron have during their four years at Belmont,” Byrd said.

Johnson was named First Team All-Atlantic Sun and Atlantic Sun Tournament Most Valuable Player a year ago.  Johnson has tallied 21 double figure scoring games, ranking among the league leaders in scoring, assists, steals, and free throw percentage.

His 26-point, five-assist performance against Jacksonville State on Mar. 2 secured Belmont an outright regular season conference championship and the 100th career victory for the Bruin seniors.

Byrd received the 2012 NCAA Bob Frederick Sportsmanship Award this past fall and will be inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame this May.

“The Coach of the Year award is truly a reflection of the accomplishments of the players, the coaching staff and all others who have worked hard to make this first year in the OVC a successful one,” Byrd said. “Very few coaches have the good fortune to work with a basketball staff of great coaches and outstanding people like I do. I’m very appreciative of the award, and happy to share it with Brian Ayers, James Strong, Mark Price and Tyler Holloway.”

Belmont (24-6, 14-2 OVC) returns to action Friday, Mar. 8 in the semifinal round of the OVC Tournament.

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