NORFOLK, Va., March 7, 2023—Howard University junior guard Destiny Howell was named Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Player of the Year, the conference office announced today. Jerni Kiaku of North Carolina Central was named Rookie of the Year, while Norfolk State senior guard Camille Downs earned Defensive Player of the Year honors. Norfolk State’s Larry Vickers was named Coach of the Year.
All awards were voted on by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors and announced Tuesday evening in the Attucks Theater during the inaugural MEAC BBT Awards.
Howell, the reigning MEAC Basketball Tournament Outstanding Performer, led the conference in scoring this season with an average of 16.5 points per game – and in MEAC play, she averaged 16.9 points a contest. Howell ranked second in the MEAC in 3-point percentage (.383) and third in field goal percentage (.443) in MEAC games. She had 10 20-point efforts on the season, as well as two 30-point games – including a career-high 35 at VCU on Dec. 28, 2022. This marks the second time in three seasons the Player of the Year has come from Howard (Jayla Thornton in 2020-21).
Kiaku ranked 12th in the MEAC in scoring, both overall and in conference play, after averaging 10.9 points per game. She racked up 15 double-digit scoring efforts on the season, including three 20-point efforts. Her season high of 25 came against South Carolina State on Jan. 14, and for the season, Kiaku was a six-time MEAC Rookie of the Week. This marks the second straight season in which the MEAC Rookie of the Year has come from North Carolina Central (Diamond Thomas in 2021-22).
Downs was named Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season after leading the MEAC and ranking top five in the nation in steals. She has racked up 100 steals on the season, an average of 3.4 per contest, ranking fourth nationally in steals per game and fifth in total steals. She racked up at least three steals in a game 20 times on the year, including a season-high six three times. Downs is the first player to win the Defensive Player of the Year award in back-to-back seasons since Bethune-Cookman’s Kailyn Williams in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
Vickers led the Spartans to the MEAC regular-season title with an 11-3 mark in conference play, and Norfolk State enters the conference tournament with a 23-6 overall record to set the program Div. I record for wins in a season. In non-conference play, the Spartans boast wins over such programs as College of Charleston, Appalachian State, Purdue Fort Wayne, Marshall, Hampton, Campbell, William & Mary and UNC Wilmington. This is Vickers’ first MEAC Coach of the Year honor.
Joining Howell and Downs on the 2023 All-MEAC First Team are Morgan State’s Ja’Niah Henson and Charlene Shepherd, as well as Norfolk State’s Deja Francis.
The 2023 MEAC Basketball Tournament begins Wednesday, March 8, and runs through Saturday, March 11, at the Scope Arena in Norfolk, Va.