On Wednesday, Crossroads League officials announced the 2020-2021 men’s and women’s basketball all-conference selections.
Four Maple Leafs made the list, with a pair of second-team all-conference players in junior forward TaNiece Chapman and senior guard Tahj Curry. Junior guard Graysen Cockerham and red-shirt junior Austin Branagan each picked up all-conference honorable mentions.
The top returning scorer on the women’s side is TaNiece Chapman, who, along with a second-team all-conference nod, hit 1,000 career points, led the team in scoring with 13.2 points per game and was ranked eighth in the NAIA Division I for total rebounds with 244.
For Cockerham, the 2020 season was one filled with honors; on top of her most recent postseason nod, she also crossed 1,000 career points, was second on the team in scoring with 11.7 points per game and led the Leafs in steals (45), assists (71) and free-throw percentage (77%).
“The competition and talent in the Crossroads League is unbelievable, so to be recognized by other coaches in this conference, for any postseason nod, is an honor that I’ll never take lightly,” Cockerham said.
On the men’s side, the 2020 season for Austin Branagan was successful to a degree, but was cut short by an ACL tear. Branagan led the team in scoring at the time of his injury and, despite missing the final six games due to injury, still led the team in rebounds with 107.
“It’s a great accomplishment to achieve, but, for me, it just created a bigger chip on my shoulder for next year,” Branagan said. “I want to win more games and be the best.”
While Branagan greatly appreciates the honor and uses postseason honors as motivation, obtaining those honors isn’t his main goal: “They are just a bonus.”
Rounding out the Maple Leafs all-conference selections is Curry, who, despite missing time due to injury, led the men’s squad with nearly 20 points per game and led the team in assists (111) as well as steals (35).
While each all-conference selection is proud of their achievements, the returning three players are all focused on improving their game in the off-season.
“My focus this off-season is going to be on a lot of the intangible things that aren’t going to show up on the stat sheet,” Cockerham said. “I want to become a stronger leader and mentally tougher overall, and I think that will help my personal game and my team.”
Branagan, despite his injury, fully intends to return to the court come October, and holds lofty goals for the 2021 season.
“For next year, I’m just trying to do my best in every aspect,” Branagan said. “This off-season is going to be very important for me and I’ll be working on every aspect of my game to become the best in the league and, hopefully, the country.”