Canisius guard Billy Baron has been named one of 25 finalists for the 2014 Lute Olson Award, presented annually to the nation’s top Division I player who has played at least two seasons with his respective team. Baron is one of three players from a mid-major school to be named to the Lute Olson Award All-America Team, joining with Ron Baker and Cleanthony Early from Wichita State. The Olson Award winner will be announced April 4 at the CollegeInsider.com Awards Banquet in Dallas.
Baron, the 2014 Pepsi MAAC Player of the Year, finished his senior season in a Golden Griffin uniform by averaging 24.1 points, 5.3 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game. He scored a team-high 821 points, making him just the second player in school history to score more than 800 points in a single season, and his 180 assists in 2013-14 make him just the third player in program history to dish out 150-plus assists in back-to-back years. He scored in double figures 33 times, he had 20-plus points 26 times and he was good for 30 or more points in a game nine times in 2013-14, highlighted by his career-high 40 points in a win at Siena Feb. 16. A two-time All-MAAC First Team honoree, Baron set Canisius’ single-season record with 107 makes from 3-point land, and he closed out his two-year career on Main Street ranked 11th in school history with 1,405 career points and he’s ninth all-time in program history with his 351 career assists. He is just the fourth player in school history to score more than 1,400 points and dish out more than 350 career assists, and his career scoring average of 20.7 points per game ranks fourth all-time as well.The Lute Olson Award is named in honor of coaching great Lute Olson, who won 780 games in 34 seasons, 24 of which were spent at the University of Arizona. During that stretch he led the Wildcats to 11 Pac-10 Conference titles, 23 consecutive NCAA Tournaments, four Final Four appearances and a National Championship in 1997. Freshmen and first-year transfers can be named to the Olson Award All-America Team, but those student-athletes are not eligible to receive Player of the Year honors. Previous recipients of the award include Miami’s Shane Larkin (2013), Creighton’s Doug McDermott (2012), UConn’s Kemba Walker (2011) and Kansas’ Sherron Collins (2010).