Like several college student-athletes across the country, Nova Southeastern University Mens’ Basketball’s Sekou Sylla did not have a junior season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was tough waking up every day knowing that you don’t have a game,” Sylla, a Brooklyn native, recollected. “It was frustrating.”
But he made up for it, breaking out in a big way in the 2021-22 campaign.
Voted upon by the NCAA Division II members of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), Division II Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) named Sylla as the 2022 Men’s Basketball Ron Lenz National Player of the Year, the division announced on Monday.
Sylla, a College of St. Rose transfer, becomes the program’s first-ever National Player of the Year.
“It feels great,” he said. “I was honored.”
The guard/forward averaged 22.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game across 32 contests. Furthermore, Sylla broke 1500 points for his college career and set Sunshine State Conference (SSC) records for points (718) and rebounds (332) in a single season.
Plus, the 6-foot-5, 200-pound redshirted junior was recognized as the D2CCA South Region Player of the Year and became the first player in SSC history to earn Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year honors in the same season.
Additionally, Sylla helped lead the Sharks to 31-1 record, a top seed in the DII NCAA Tournament and an appearance in the Elite Eight against Black Hills State, which they lost, 77-67, at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind.
While Nova Southeastern went down in defeat, he said he was happy to be part of a great team that meshed well and looks forward to returning to the fold next season.
“It was an amazing, magical season,” said Sylla, who will graduate with Sport and Recreation Management degree in May. “We played with great chemistry. But we’ll be back next year.”
Before College, Sylla, who said he has aspirations of playing pro one day, captured the Brooklyn Borough and PSAL Class “AA” Championships with the PSAL’s South Shore High School during the 2017-18 campaign.
— Jerry Del Priore
Photo: Sekou Sylla and South Shore High School Athletic Director Pat Trani.