Marshall has been on the All-Conference USA basketball teams in all 13 seasons of its membership, but the Thundering Herd’s first-second-third punch is, well, a first.
Jon Elmore was named to the first unit for the second season in a row, as the three teams were unveiled Monday. This is no cheap feat, as the 14-team conference sticks to a format of five on the first team, five on the second and five on the third with no honorable mention.
The former South Charleston and George Washington star leads the league in scoring and assists with 22.8 points and 6.7 assists. He is third in NCAA Division I in minutes per game (38:11), fourth in free throws made (203), sixth in free-throw attempts (247), eighth in scoring and 10th in assists.
He joins a first unit that includes Nick King of Middle Tennessee, Ahmad Caver of Old Dominion, Chris Cokley of Alabama-Birmingham and Justin Johnson of Western Kentucky.
C.J. Burks earned a spot on the second team and Ajdin Penava made the third unit. Burks, a Hedgesville High product, is third in the league in scoring (21.2) and third in free-throw percentage (.875). Penava, easily the most improved player on the Herd roster, leads the nation in blocked shots (124, 4.8 per game), and averages 15.4 points and eight rebounds.
With those blocks, Penava made the All-Defensive Team, also released Monday. All three honorees are juniors.
“These three have been big for us all season and I hope we carry our momentum into the tournament,” said coach Dan D’Antoni. “I said at the beginning of the season that these three would have to lead us on the court and in the locker room and that’s what they’ve done. They make me a good coach.”
It is the third season in a row Marshall has had a first-team selection, and the first time in the C-USA era the school has three selections. The only other time MU has done that in any league was in 1997, its last year in the Southern Conference — Keith Veney, John Brannen and Sidney Coles.
Burks and Penava become the 10th and 11th Herd players so honored in the C-USA era. Those athletes, by year:
2005-06: Mark Patton, third team
2006-07: Markel Humphrey, third
2007-08: Markel Humphrey, third
2008-09: Markel Humphrey, third
2009-10: Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Wilkerson, both second
2010-11: DeAndre Kane, third
2011-12: DeAndre Kane, second
2012-13: DeAndre Kane, second
2013-14: Kareem Canty, third
2014-15: Ryan Taylor, third
2015-16: James Kelly, first
2016-17: Jon Elmore, first, Ryan Taylor third
2017-18: Jon Elmore, first, C.J. Burks, second, Ajdin Penava third
Marshall begins play in the C-USA tournament in Frisco, Texas, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, taking on the first-round winner between Texas-San Antonio and Texas-El Paso. The game streams live on Facebook.