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HERDDMBB

Marshall's Taevion Kinsey (1) celebrates a basket made by teammate Jarrod West (13) during a Jan. 2 game  against Rice at the Cam Henderson Center in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — Marshall men’s basketball is in Frisco, Texas, looking to pick up some hardware as the Conference USA champions this week. Yet before games even begin the Thundering Herd already has added a few pieces to its trophy case.

Conference USA announced its all-league performers Monday and the Herd men’s basketball team had three players recognized for their performances this season.

Sophomore guard Taevion Kinsey was named as a Conference USA second-team selection, junior point guard Jarrod West was honored as a Conference USA third-team selection and also named to the Conference USA All-Defensive team while freshman guard Andrew Taylor was named to the league’s All-Freshman team.

It’s quite a haul for a Marshall backcourt that underwent significant change in the 2019-20 season following the graduation of three seniors from last year’s team.

“We’ve got three people out of five starters mentioned as one of the better players in the conference,” Marshall men’s basketball coach Dan D’Antoni said. “That speaks for itself. We are proud of those kids and we think it’s well-deserved.”

Kinsey leads Marshall in scoring at 16.1 points, which is sixth overall in the league. His scoring effort increased during league play with his average rising to 17.8 points, fourth among all players.

“It was more so Coach Dan believing in me,” Kinsey said. “Sometimes, I don’t believe in myself, but he believed in me more than I did in myself and kept pushing me by putting the ball in my hands.”

The sophomore from Columbus, Ohio, was fourth in assists with 120 in Conference USA and his assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.4 is fifth-best within the league.

West has been the quarterback on both ends of the floor for the Herd, directing Marshall’s offense while serving as the team’s primary on-ball defender. After serving primarily as a defensive presence over his first two seasons, the junior from Clarksburg, West Virginia, amped up his offensive presence for the Herd, taking on a primary scoring and distribution load.

“The role was definitely different this year,” West said. “Last year was more a 3-and-D type role — play hard defense and knock down shots. It’s definitely a tougher role, but it’s one I prepared for.”

West has excelled well in his new leadership role, staking claim as the only player in Conference USA to rank in the top 10 in scoring, assists and steals. West’s 14.4 points per game are 10th in the league, his 4.1 assists rank fifth and he leads Conference USA in steals with 2.1 per game.

“That goes right straight to his heart,” D’Antoni said. “He’s that guy who has prepared himself to do all that. He doesn’t take a minute off in any aspect of the game. It shows he’s involved in every aspect.”

West’s 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio is also fourth in the league, just ahead of Kinsey.

Taylor came onto the scene in the middle of the year and has been a key addition to the Herd backcourt — especially in the last few weeks when he’s elevated his game to give Marshall another versatile outside threat.

Taylor is averaging 9.9 points per game with 4.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.9 steals per game.

The freshman from Corbin, Kentucky, has scored in double-figures in each of his last four games — a stretch in which the Herd has averaged 82 points per game.

“We needed that third guy,” D’Antoni said. “Andy gives you that third guy who can break a defense down and get inside. He’s got a good motor and that keeps the motor of the team up.”