NORFOLK, Va. – Norfolk State senior guard Joe Bryant Jr. was named the 2022-23 MEAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Year on Tuesday evening, in addition to earning All-MEAC First Team honors. He becomes the first player to win the award in back-to-back seasons since Delaware State’s Jahsha Bluntt (2005-06, 2006-07).
The historic recognition headlined three Spartans to earn MEAC accolades on Tuesday. Graduate forward Kris Bankstonwas named to the All-Defensive Team, while joining Bryant on the All-MEAC First Team. Freshman George Beale Jr. made the All-Rookie Team.
The occurrence marked the first time the Spartans have landed two players on the All-MEAC First Team in the same year since 1999-00, when Damian Woolfolk and Darrell Neal made the top squad.
Bryant has led the Spartans to a 20-10 record, averaging 17.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per contest while shooting 43.2 percent from the floor, 37.9 percent from behind the arc, and 84.2 percent (MEAC-best) from the free throw line. He’s recorded 20 or more points on 10 occasions this season, scoring a season-best 29 points at the Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic against Hampton.
Bryant is the second player in program history to be named MEAC Player of the Year in consecutive seasons, with Woolfolk achieving the feat in the 1998-99 and 1999-00 campaigns.
Bankston has provided efficiency on the offensive end, while serving as the Spartans’ rim protector on the other side of the floor. The graduate senior is averaging 14.3 points per game on a MEAC-best 69.7 percent shooting clip, while pulling down a team best 7.1 rebounds per contest. He also has blocked 1.6 shots per game, the second-best mark in the conference.
Beale opened his collegiate career in spectacular fashion, posting an 18-point, 14-rebound double-double against Virginia University of Lynchburg. The freshman has racked up 125 points and 57 rebounds in his first year, recording a career-high 19 points at Delaware State.
The accolades were voted on by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. Howard’s Kenneth Blakeney was named MEAC Coach of the Year, while Bison freshman Shy Odom earned Rookie of the Year honors. North Carolina Central’s Brendan Medley-Bacon was named Defensive Player of the Year.