Burlington, Ont. – The talent across Ontario University Athletics (OUA) shone bright once again during the 2018-19 season, and among the droves of top-tier performances, a trio of standouts rose the ranks to earn the conference’s top annual honours. The OUA is pleased to announce that Theanna Vernon (Scarborough, Ont.) from the Ryerson Rams is the 2018-19 Female Athlete of the Year, while the co-winners for the conference’s Male Athlete of the Year are Guelph Gryphons’ Jace Kotsopoulos (Burlington, Ont.) and, for a second straight season, Laurentian Voyageurs’ Kadre Gray (Toronto, Ont.).
Gray, the reigning OUA and U SPORTS Male Athlete of the Year, hit the hardwood with another impressive campaign in his third go-around, once again becoming the focal point for the Laurentian Voyageurs men’s basketball team and a force throughout U SPORTS hoops.
To learn more about the decorated third-year guard’s résumé, his name can be found in and around the top of several key statistical categories, both in the province and the country as a whole. Gray’s 31.0 points per game paced the nation, even eclipsing his lofty totals from a year ago by almost seven points. He also ranked first in both field goals made per game (10.3) and free throws made (160), proving that he can make an impact from just about anywhere on the floor. He isn’t just a talented scorer; however, as the former OUA and U SPORTS Rookie of the Year also ranked second in assists with 6.2 per contest and pulled down 7.4 rebounds per game to put him in the top-15 in the conference.
With a well-rounded stat line like this, it comes as no surprise that Gray also picked up six double-doubles on the year, as well as one triple double (32 PTS, 11 REB, 13 AST), which came in a dominant opening weekend that saw him average 40 points, 10 boards, and nine assists in his return from a season-ending foot injury the year prior. While his season got off to a sizzling start, Gray’s most impactful performance may have come later in the season when his Voyageurs took the court against the then top-ranked Ryerson Rams. Gray’s 45-point outburst, which included 31 in Laurentian’s second-half surge, helped sink the country’s top seed and make a big statement heading into the postseason.
Beyond his efforts on the university scene, the first team OUA all-star and U SPORTS All-Canadian was also recognized by Canada Basketball on multiple occasions. After his otherworldly effort against the Rams, coupled with another productive performance against Toronto, Gray was named the Canada Basketball Male Player of the Week. Earlier in the season, meanwhile, Gray’s services were called into action when he joined the Senior Men’s National Team in their FIBA World Cup Qualifiers against Venezuela and Brazil; making him the only active U SPORTS player to suit up for Canada in this competition.
According to head coach Shawn Swords, Gray’s ability to be consistently recognized “is a testament to his ability”. Continued Swords, “to be a two-time OUA Athlete of the Year is quite the accomplishment. It does not come as a surprise to me because his work ethic and dedication keeps his potential growing and growing.”
While Gray was honoured as the top male U SPORTS athlete a year ago, this season will see Vernon and Kotsopoulos represent the conference at the upcoming Lieutenant Governor Athletic Awards Presented by Makadiff SPORTS in Calgary on May 7, 2019, as previous winners are unable to be nominated for a second time.