NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) announced its annual all-district teams as well as its district player and coach of the year awards on Tuesday, with members of the Merrimack College men’s basketball team serving as recipients of the honors. Head coach Joe Gallo was named District I Coach of the Year while senior Juvaris Hayes earned a spot on the USBWA All-District I Team.
Gallo received his first-ever District Coach of the Year honor while it was Hayes’ first time as an USBWA all-district selection as a Division I player. Gallo joined noteworthy head coaches Kevin Williard (Seton Hall), Tony Bennett (Virginia), John Calipari (Kentucky), Anthony Grant (Dayton), Greg McDermott (Creighton), Scott Drew (Baylor), Mark Pope (BYU) and Brian Dutcher (San Diego State) as the Coach of the Year award winners across the USBWA’s nine districts. The USBWA’s first district comprises Division I programs from the states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Hayes was the only Northeast Conference (NEC) student-athlete named to a USBWA All-District squad. Hayes adds this honor to a campaign that saw him collect NEC Defensive Player of the Year, NEC All-Conference First Team, multiple NEC weekly honors, a National Mid-Major Player of the Week nod and a spot on the Lou Henson Award Midseason Watch List during an immensely successful senior season.
On the coaching side, Gallo directed his Warriors to the outright NEC Regular Season Championship, becoming the first program ever to win an outright conference regular season crown in its first season reclassifying to Division I. The Warriors’ 20 wins to date are the most of the eight Division I men’s basketball programs in the state of Massachusetts, and 2019-20 marked the first time in school history that program posted three consecutive 20-win seasons. His career win total has surpassed 80 this season, and he was the unanimous selection for NEC Coach of the Year.
Merrimack’s point guard ended the season as the NEC’s leader in assists per game, dishing out 198 through 31 games for an average of 6.4 per contest. Offensively, he averaged 10.7 points per game, ending the year with double-digit scoring performances in six of his final seven contests. He concluded the regular season as the Warriors’ team leader in assists (6.4), rebounds (4.7) and steals (3.9), serving as the catalyst of the team’s offensive and defensive game plans. In his career, Hayes is the program’s all-time assists and steals leader while ranking in the top-10 in both career points and career rebounds.
Merrimack expects to begin postseason next week as it awaits what tournament it will qualify for among the non-NCAA sanctioned basketball tournaments available to Division I programs. An announcement on those details will be made as soon as they are known.