Senior Thomas Kennedy (Detroit, Southeastern) was strong and steady for two years in a Titan uniform and on Thursday, the Detroit native was named the team MVP as the Titans celebrated a successful season at the annual team banquet. The event was held at Buddy’s Restaurant Pizzeria in Farmington Hills.
Kennedy actually took home two awards on the night as he was the recipient of not only the Robert Calihan Most Valuable Player, but also the Frank R. Gerbig Sr. Sportsmanship Award. He averaged 11.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting over 45 percent from the field and 70 percent from the free throw line. He was the only Titan to start all 34 games this season. In his career, Kennedy averaged 11.4 ppg., playing in 64 games with 63 starts, with his only reserve role coming in his first game in a Titan uniform when he netted a team-high 18 points at nationally ranked Purdue.
“He is a great guy with high character,” said head coach Ray McCallum. “He is a winner and he has played a huge role in getting this program back on top. He came from a great junior college program where he was an All-American on the court and his leadership, the way he carries himself and the respect he has from his teammates, coaches and staff make him an All-American off the court too.”
Sophomore Chase Simon (Detroit, Community) earned the John R. Kirwan Leading Scorer Award after he led the Titans with 14.0 points per game en route to being selected to the All-Horizon League second team as well as to the All-Newcomer team. Simon finished 10th in the league in scoring and third in scoring (15.6) in conference games alone. He tallied double digits 26 times and had eight games of 20+ points, including a pair of 30+ point explosions. He had a career-high 33 at Milwaukee, the third highest scoring output in the HL this season and the highest in league play, as well as 30 against Loyola.
“He is a guy that can score in so many ways and we saw that this season,” said McCallum. “He can shoot the three, he can go to the basket and he can get to the free throw line so that is what you want out of your top scorer. He really displayed his offensive ability in Spain, where at times he just took over and scored in bunches and we saw that in a few games during the regular season.”
Sophomore Donavan Foster (Chicago, Curie) was tabbed the Dave DeBusschere Most Improved Player after the guard was one of the top Titan reserves. Foster posted 4.2 ppg., but the difference could be seen in his play as he had more assists than turnovers on the year, and improved his shooting from 32 percent as a freshman to 41 percent this season, which includes his 3-point field goal percentage, going from 21 percent to 44 percent.
“We saw his development over the summer in Spain and once we got back to campus. He is confident and competed so hard for us as a sophomore, a season where a lot of times guys take a step backwards,” stated McCallum.
The William Ebben Academic and Athletic Excellence Award was given to sophomore Jordan Fee (Grove City, PA/Grove City). Fee once again proved his worth off the court as the walk-on guard provided valuable work ethic and energy throughout the season to every practice, while earning high marks in the classroom.
“Jordan does all the work that no one gets to see,” added McCallum. “He heads up our scout team and really does a tremendous job in learning our opponents and making the team better in practice with his hard work.”
The final two honors of the night went to sophomore Eli Holman (Richmond, CA/Richmond) as the Titan center earned the Norm Swanson Top Newcomer Award as well as the Larry Doyle Most Dedicated Titan accolade.
Holman averaged 11.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game while coming away with 11 double-doubles on the season. He was in double figures in scoring 22 times, pulled down double digits in rebounds 12 times and recorded three or more blocks 14 times. He is the conference leader in two single game statistics with his six blocks against Shawnee State and at Loyola and his 18 rebounds vs. Milwaukee. His 2.5 blocks per game led the Horizon League, while his 77 total blocks were the fourth most in a single season in UDM history.
“He was recognized by the coaches in this league with his selection to the All-Newcomer team and he had just a great season for us,” said McCallum. “He has waited patiently for almost two years to start his college career and he handled that well. The success he had this season, especially at the end of the year, shows how hard he has worked and how far he has come.
The evening started with an Invocation by University President Fr. Gerard L. Stockhausen, S.J. After dinner, Director of Athletics Keri Gaither opened the program.
Coach McCallum continued the night by recognizing all of his support staff before handing out the team awards. The seniors then had time to reflect on their career with the annual Senior Speeches. Coach McCallum talked about the Titan season and the promising future ahead before Gaither concluded the banquet with some final remarks.