RICHMOND, Va., March 1, 2012 - James Madison senior guard Humpty Hitchens (Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe) claimed Third Team All-CAA honors as the Colonial Athletic Association held its annual awards banquet Thursday night on the eve of the 2012 Virginia 529 CAA Men's Basketball Championship.
Junior center Gene Swindle (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) joined Hitchens in the evening's award presentation as he was selected as an honorable mention All-Academic honoree.
George Mason forward Ryan Pearson was chosen as the CAA Player of the Year while Old Dominion guard Kent Bazemore was the league's Defensive Player of the Year. Drexel's Bruiser Flint was tagged as the league's Coach of the Year after leading the Dragons to the regular season title and 17 straight wins. Dragons guard Damion Lee was the CAA Rookie of the Year. Georgia State's Jihad Ali and William and Mary's Quinn McDowell shared the Dean Ehlers Leadership Award.
Hitchens averaged 8.7 points per game through two seasons at Akron and one season with the Dukes before emerging as one of the CAA's top talents in his senior season. He enters the CAA Championship as the league's seventh-leading scorer this season with 15.0 points per game and its seventh-leading career scorer among active players with 1,304 total points, which includes 435 points as a senior. He has reached double figures in 21 of 29 games with eight games of at least 20 points, including twice reaching a career high of 27 points against UNCW and George Mason.
Contributing to his scoring increase, Hitchens leads the CAA averaging 2.8 three-point field goals per game and ranks second in three-point field goal percentage at .390. He is also fourth in the conference in overall field goal percentage with a mark of .421. In his first three collegiate seasons, Hitchens was a .382 shooter from the field and .348 from the arc. He shot 31 percent from the arc in two seasons at Akron before improving to 40 percent in two seasons playing for JMU head coach Matt Brady, who is highly regarded for his work with shooters.
In addition, Hitchens ranks fourth in the CAA with 3.7 assists per game and has 108 total for the season. He led the league in assists for the first month of the season when he played as primary point guard for the Dukes in the absence of junior guard Devon Moore. During that time, Hitchens also had game-winning jump shots in the final 10 seconds in back-to-back JMU wins against Penn and Hofstra.
Hitchens currently ranks fifth in JMU history for career three-point percentage with his 40.1 percent mark sitting just behind current JMU women's head coach Kenny Brooks (41.0 percent) and just ahead of current junior forward Andrey Semenov (39.9 percent). He is also fifth in season three-pointers with 80 and sixth in season minutes per game at 36.5.
Swindle, an All-Academic honoree, possessed less than one minute of collegiate playing time in three seasons at Virginia Tech before transferring to JMU this year. He emerged in his first season with the Dukes to average 14.3 minutes per game in 30 games with 12 starts. He had an offensive breakthrough in the final two weeks of the season, posting 35 of his 83 points for the season (42 percent) in the final four games. He is currently averaging 2.8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game with a .484 field goal percentage.
Swindle holds the squad's best cumulative grade point average through the end of the fall semester. He is an economics major.
In addition to Hitchens, junior guard A.J. Davis (Columbus, Ohio/Harmony Community) accumulated the highest vote total for All-CAA consideration beyond the league's three teams honored. He enters the tournament as the team's leading scorer with 16.2 points per game with 24 of 31 games in double figures and 11 games of 20 points or more. He is fourth in the league in scoring and third with a .439 field goal percentage. Fellow junior guard Devon Moore (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) received three points for the league's All-Defensive Team.
JMU went 12-19 for the season and 5-13 in conference play. The Dukes enter the Virginia 529 CAA Championship as the No. 8 seed and will meet No. 9 UNCW in the tournament's first game on Friday at noon at the Richmond Coliseum.