Throughout the year, Shawnee State’s Kyree Elder could always be counted on for a big basket when the Bears needed it most. His fellow teammate, EJ Onu, could always be counted on for a critical stop when SSU needed it most.
Their efforts in guiding Shawnee State to its most victories (21) since the 2001-02 team won 22 games, along with the Bears’ obtaining their first-ever national tournament bid, allowed both Elder and Onu to obtain NAIA All-American accolades in a press release that was made public by national officials on Thursday afternoon. The 2019-20 unit became the first team to produce two NAIA All-American men’s basketball players in the history of the program.
Elder, who averaged 18.1 points and 6.9 rebounds at Shawnee State, proved to be the Bears’ go-to hand under pressure all season long. The senior from Nashville, Tenn. led Shawnee State in the following categories:
- Points (544)
- Points per game
- Steals per game (1.33)
- Assists per game (2.8)
- Free throws made (101)
- Free throws attempted (121)
- Free throw percentage (83.5)
- Three-point field goals made (53)
- Three-point field goals attempted (147)
- Three-point field goal percentage (36.1)
Elder also finished second on the squad in rebounds (208) and rebounds per game (6.9). Among Mid-South Conference competitiors, the senior finished second in points per game, third in scoring, third in free throw percentage, fourth in defensive rebounds per game, sixth in steals, seventh in rebounds, rebounds per game, and double-doubles, and eighth in steals per game en route to his First-Team All-MSC billing. Elder ranked 19th in the NAIA in free throw percentage and 23rd in the NAIA in points per game.
Onu, a defensive whiz, earned NAIA All-American status off of an outstanding defensive campaign. Easily the best defensive campaign in the NAIA in nearly a decade-and-a-half, the senior paced the entire country in blocks (182) and blocks per game (5.7) while finishing 19th in the NAIA in total rebounds (248). Onu also improved greatly from an offensive standpoint down the stretch of the season, scoring in double-figures in each of his final 11 contests to round out the year.
Conference-wise, Onu, in addition to leading the Mid-South Conference in blocks, finished fourth in rebounds per game, seventh in offensive rebounds per game, and fifth in defensive rebounds per game. Onu, like Elder, achieved First-Team All-MSC status.
For his career, Onu, who became the 19th player to eclipse 1,000 points for his Shawnee State career, currently sits in that position on the SSU all-time scoring list. In addition to leading the program in blocks and blocks per game for a season and a career, Onu is also ninth in career rebounding average (6.5) and career rebounds (600) and is eighth in career defensive rebounds (427) and defensive rebound average (4.6).
Elder and Onu became the sixth and seventh NAIA All-American men’s basketball players in school history Thursday afternoon. They join Ty Davis (1995-96), Andre Horton (2001-02), Antwain Lavender (2002-03), current SSU head coach DeLano Thomas (2003-04), and Tyler Morgan (2012-13) on the esteemed list.
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