(Courtesy: NMSU Athletics)
LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - The league's coaches have spoken and Tuesday morning it was revealed that a trio of NM State men's basketball players are on the receiving end of some All-Western Athletic Conference (WAC) honors.
Redshirt junior guard Jabari Rice earned a spot on the All-WAC Second Team, senior guard Clayon Henry carved out a spot for himself on the WAC's All-Defensive Team and senior forward Johnny McCants was named an All-WAC Honorable Mention it was announced by the league office Tuesday morning.
Rice, who was lauded as the league's Preseason Player of the Year in November of 2020, claimed his second All-WAC laurel by earning a spot on the All-WAC Second Team.
A redshirt junior out of Houston, Texas, the guard served as the Aggies' leading scorer (13.5 ppg) through the course of the regular season.
Though he was sidelined for a stretch of almost two months with a foot injury, that didn't keep Rice from being his usual productive self upon his return.
All five of his best scoring performances of the 2020-21 regular season came after he returned from injury and he generated three of the Aggies' six 20+ point outings this year.
The versatile guard also heads into the WAC Tournament averaging 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.
Rice has put up shooting splits of .458/.349/.791 so far and resides among the top 10 in the WAC in free throw percentage (sixth) and three-pointers per game (seventh, 1.9).
Like Rice, Henry was hit with a foot injury which caused him to miss nearly two months of play.
It was the latest in an unfortunate two-year run of injuries for the Calgary, Alberta, product, but he came back strong and was a regular in the Aggies' starting rotation.
One of just three players on the Aggies' roster to start every single game they were available for, Henry put up averages of 8.9 points, 4.9 rebounds 1.7 assists and 0.8 steals per game while playing the role of a high-energy defender for NM State.
In WAC tilts, his steal percentage of 1.6 was the 20th-best in the league which helped his team generate the third-best scoring defense in the league (63.9 opponent ppg).
Henry is the owner of one of the Aggies' three double-doubles this year, too, going for 10 points and 10 rebounds in a WAC win at Seattle U on Feb. 13.
One of the Aggies' most versatile performers, McCants rolls into Las Vegas as the team's leader in a number of statistical categories.
In order to earn the first All-WAC citation of his career, the forward out of Las Cruces, N.M., had to wrap up the regular season as the team's leading rebounder (6.2 per game), shot blocker (14, 0.8 per game) and steal-getter (16, 0.9 per game).
McCants' scoring clip of 10.5 points per game ranks third on the team and is made possible by his team-leading field goal percentage (.475) as well as his team-best three-point field goal percentage (.361).
The senior sits among the top 10 in the WAC in such categories as rebounding (eighth), blocked shots per game (seventh) and offensive rebounding (third, 3.0 per game).
Fifty-one of McCants' team-best 105 rebounds have come on the offensive glass and last Saturday he turned in arguably the most well-rounded performance of his career by piling up 12 points, six rebounds, five assists, five steals and three blocked shots without committing a turnover in the Aggies' 68-56 victory at Dixie State.
This week the Aggies are bound for Las Vegas, Nev., where they'll take aim at a fourth-straight WAC Tournament title.
The third seed for the 2021 Hercules Tires WAC Tournament, NM State's run to its 23rd NCAA Tournament appearance will begin Thursday night at 9:00 p.m. MT when they take on sixth-seeded UTRGV. ESPN+ and the ESPN app will stream the showdown between the Aggies and Vaqueros.