BOSTON – UMBC guards K.J. Maura (San Juan, P.R.) and Jairus Lyles (Silver Spring, Md./DeMatha) earned top honors as the America East Conference released its all-conference teams and major award winners prior to the America East Playoffs.
All award winners were selected by the league's nine head coaches.
Maura became just the second Retriever in 15 years of America East competition to earn a major league award, as the 5'8" senior point guard earned America East Defensive Player of the Year honors. He was also tabbed to the league's All-Conference Third Team and All-Defensive Team, repeating in the latter category.
Lyles, a graduate student, earned America East First Team honors, the first UMBC recipient since Darryl Proctor earned top honors in the 2008-09 season. He earned Second Team honors the last two seasons.
Moreover, junior forward Joe Sherburne (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) earned America East All-Academic Team accolades for the second consecutive year and freshman forward Daniel Akin (Eltham, England) was selected to the league's All-Rookie team.
As of Feb. 27, Maura ranked 29th nationally in steals per game (2.04) and piloted the much-improved Retriever defense that has risen to fourth in America East play, allowing 66.4 points per game. He became the third player in school history to record 50+ steals in back-to-back seasons. As a team, UMBC is 38th nationally in steals per game and its scoring average of 69.8 points per game ranks 112 in the nation, a far cry of the ranking of 288 (77.2 ppg) a season ago.
Offensively, Maura is averaging 11.1 points per outing, in addition to his outstanding ball distribution skills. He is currently ranked 18th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.90) and 53rd with 5.3 assists per game.
Rodney Elliott ('17) earned 2013-14 America East Rookie of the Year honors, UMBC's only other major award winner.
The equally dynamic Lyles has been ranked in the top ten in nine America East statistical categories for the majority of the 2017-18 season. He finished second in America East in scoring (20.3 ppg), third in treys per game (2.4), fourth in free throw percentage (82.1) and even seventh in assists (100, 3.6 per game), In ball control statistics, the 6'2" guard actually has recorded one more steal than Maura (2.07 pg, 26th nationally) and placed ninth in rebounds per game (5.7).
In just 81 games played, Lyles raced past the 1,600-point plateau and currently stands in fifth place on UMBC's all-time list with 1,653 points. With a current UMBC career scoring average at 20.4 points per game, he will shatter Proctor's No. 1 career scoring average mark, which is at 17.5 ppg.
Late last month, Sherburne earned his second consecutive Academic All-District 2 First Team (CoSIDA) honor and has moved on to the national balloting for Academic All-American. He just became the 21st Retriever and tenth third-year player to reach 1,000 career points and just moved past Elliott into 19th place. Sherburne averages 11.0 points per game and has knocked down a career-best 70 treys on the year. His current career total of 199 3-point field goals stands seventh on UMBC's all-time list.
Head Coach Ryan Odom inserted Akin into the starting lineup as conference play kicked off and the newcomer has averaged 4.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in that span. He earned a pair of America East Rookie-of-the-Week honors in January. Akin, who has only been playing organized basketball for three years, has also provided strong defense against America East's top low-post players.
The second-seeded Retrievers (21-10, 12-4 AE) open the America East Playoffs at home versus No. 7 UMass Lowell (12-17, 6-10 AE) in the quarterfinal round on Saturday, March 3 at 1:00 p.m.