SMITHFIELD, R.I. — Bryant University men’s basketball freshman forward Marcel Pettway was honored for a terrific season by being named the Northeast Conference Rookie of the Year, as selected by the league’s head coaches.
Pettway also earned a spot on the NEC All-Rookie Team where he was joined by classmate Nisre Zouzoua (Brockton, Mass.).
Pettway becomes just the second player in program history to garner the NEC Rookie of the Year award, after Alex Francis (’14) did so in 2011. Pettway and Zouzoua are also the first Bulldogs to make the NEC All-Rookie Team since the 2010-11 season. The combo combined to score 14.2 points per game this season, ranking inside the top-15 at the Division I level among freshman scoring duos.
A five-time NEC Rookie of the Week honoree, Pettway began his Bulldog career scoring eight points against defending national champion Duke in the season opener, and registered his first double-digit performance against Harvard on Nov. 25. The forward earned his first-career start three days later at Georgetown where he charted his first-career double-double with personal bests of 15 points and 12 boards.
He matched that career high on the glass at New Hampshire on Nov. 30 in his second start, then earned his third starting nod against Army on Dec. 8, when he tallied his second-career double-double (13p, 10r).
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound bigman used his broad frame, skills and basketball IQ to become a dominant interior force for Bryant throughout the year. He went on to start the last 22 games of the season and finished his rookie campaign averaging 11.4 points per game to rank fourth among league rookies. He led all conference freshmen with 7.0 caroms per contest, good for ninth overall.
The North Providence, R.I., product converted 59.7 percent of his shots this season, ranking third in the NEC. Pettway statted eight double-doubles this year, which included a career-high 26 points to pair with 11 rebounds at Fairleigh Dickinson on Jan. 4. The eight double-doubles were the fifth most in the league and tie him with Francis for the most by a Bryant freshman in the program’s Division I tenure.
Zouzoua had a splendid start to his Black and Gold career, establishing himself as a dynamic scoring wing with 16 points in the opener against the Blue Devils and 23 points against Emerson on Nov. 18. The Brockton, Mass., native would go on to score double figures in nine of 11 contests from Dec. 5 – Jan. 15 and finished the year with 20 such outings.
Zouzoua reset his career high with 25 points on Feb. 11 against Fairleigh Dickinson on 8-of-16 shooting, going 5-of-10 from 3-point land. The athletic guard concluded the year scoring 20+ points in each of the last three games and finished with a flourish in the Bulldogs’ 88-83 win over LIU Brooklyn in Saturday’s season finale, resetting his career best with 29 points and draining a personal-best seven trifectas. The performance earned him his first NEC Rookie of the Week recognition.
Over the final month of the year, Zouzoua averaged 19.3 points per game to catapult up the charts on the NEC scoring list. He finished with 12.8 points per effort to lead the Bulldogs and all league freshmen while sitting 12th overall. His 60 made threes ranked second among conference rookies, and he converted 37 percent of his shots from the floor to pace the Black and Gold (ninth in NEC).