Photo by Gerald Castillo
Pearson named Sun Belt, Lou Henson Player of the Week
Nijal Pearson doesn’t know how to explain it.
The ball always feels good coming off his hands. Even the misses.
Eight games into the season, the junior guard has become a flamethrower on offense. Pearson is dropping in 3.75 3-pointers per game, draining them at an electric 52.6 percent clip, and averaging a career-high 21.6 points.
“We’re just making (threes), I don’t know,” Pearson said after Texas State’s game against Rice on Nov. 28. “I don’t know what to tell you, they’re going in, man.”
Pearson took his game to another level this week. He picked up 25 points, 5 rebounds and shot 5-9 from deep in the Bobcats’ 74-60 win over the Owls, then went for 26 points and seven rebounds in a 69-68 victory over UTSA on Saturday.
The junior made the game-tying basket against the Roadrunners — his fifth triple of the night — then swatted away a putback attempt on the other end. Junior guard Jaylen Shead sank the winning free throw on the next possession.
The Beaumont native already had the conference’s attention, earning Sun Belt Player of the Week on Nov. 27 and again on Monday for his efforts in the two victories. Now, the of the country is beginning to notice. Pearson was named as the Lou Henson Award National Player of the Week, given to the NCAA’s top mid-major player in Division I college basketball.
“I would tell you that (Pearson’s) offensive performance was very good,” head coach Danny Kaspar said after the Rice game. “I think he’ll tell you that he could rebound a little bit better and he could probably do a few more things. But if he keeps playing like that, I’ll take it any day. Is there room for improvement? Yes.”
Pearson is the first Texas State player in program history to earn the Henson Award. He’s also the first Sun Belt player to win Player of the Week honors in consecutive weeks since North Texas’ Tony Mitchell on Jan. 16 and 23, 2012.
The Bobcats are 7-0 this year when they shoot at least 30 percent from outside. They’ll look to keep up their hot start when they travel to face Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (4-4) at 7 p.m. in the American Bank Center.