The Sun Belt Conference was taken by storm by Little Rock this past season. However, the past decade overall has seen lots of change. Conference USA took some members during realignment, paving the way for new members. This includes Georgia State, who has come right in and asserted themselves as a powerhouse. The Panthers, as well as other conference foes, have had some NBA talent come through the league.
Sun Belt Conference 2010s All-Decade Team
Guard – R.J. Hunter, Georgia State
R.J. Hunter will forever live on in Georgia State history for one of the best shots of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. However, he is more than just one basket. Hunter won player of the year twice, the first two seasons of Georgia State’s membership in the league. He became the third player in school history to receive All-American accolades, being named the AP’s team twice. Hunter left as the Panthers’ all-time leading scorer.
He averaged 19 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and two steals per game during his two years in the Sun Belt. He has the best career free-throw percentage in league history as well as the third-best player efficiency rating. Hunter won two regular-season titles and made the one NCAA appearance mentioned. He hit the game-winning three-point shot from way beyond the arc to upset Baylor in that tournament.
Guard – Tookie Brown, Georgia Southern
Tookie Brown is one of those players that shined out of the gate in college. He took home the freshman of the year award in 2016, and ended his career as the player of the year in 2019. He made the first-team in all four of his college seasons, the first player in conference history to accomplish that feat. Brown is also the only Sun Belt Conference player to have at least 2,000 career points and 500 career assists.
For his career, he averaged 17.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He is the league’s career leader in points produced and offensive win shares. Brown also sits in second in offensive ratings, made free throws, and win shares. He made the Eagles competitive during his career, but only got the opportunity to play in one CBI.
Guard – Nijal Pearson, Texas State
Nijal Pearson is the only current player to make the team, just finishing his career for the Bobcats. He took home the most recent player of the year award for the 2019-20 season. That was the first time a Texas State player had won the honor since they joined the league early in the decade. He made the first-team twice and is the school’s all-time leading scorer.
Pearson averaged 16 points and 5.6 rebounds per game for his career. He is in the top five in Sun Belt Conference history for career points produced and defensive win shares. He is also in the top ten in made field goals, points, and win shares. Pearson played in two CITs while at Texas State.
Forward – Augustine Rubit, South Alabama
Augustine Rubit was a monster rebounder during his career. He won freshman of the year in 2011 and player of the year in 2013. He also became the first player in conference history to lead the league in rebounding for three straight seasons. Rubit has grabbed the most offensive rebounds in league history, and is also third in NCAA history in offensive rebounds.
He averaged 16.2 points and ten rebounds per game for his career. Rubit sits in the top five of 12 other statistical career categories, including second in total rebounds. He made one CIT appearance while playing for the Jaguars.
Forward – Shawn Long, Louisiana
Shawn Long was another dominant rebounder during his Sun Belt Conference career. He was another player that earned both freshman of the year (2013) and player of the year (2016) during his career. Long made the first-team three times and left as the Ragin’ Cajuns career rebounding leader.
For his career, he averaged 17.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, and two blocks per game. Long sits in first place in almost every career rebounding category for the league, including defensive rebounds, total rebounds, and rebounds per game. He is also the NCAA’s career leader in defensive rebounds and sits in seventh in career rebounds. He made one NCAA appearance while with Louisiana as well as two CIT appearances.
Guard – Ryan Harrow, Georgia State
Ryan Harrow spent two seasons at Georgia State after prior stints at NC State and Kentucky (including being part of the 2012 National Title team). He made the first-team in both years at the school and became the second-fastest player in school history to scored 1,000 points as a Panther. Harrow’s 222 made field goals broke the school’s single-season record during the 2013-14 season.
He averaged 18 points and 3.9 assists per game during his time at Georgia State. In just two seasons, Harrow finished in the top five in the league in points, field goals, two-point field goals, and points per game in both of his seasons. He was alongside RJ Hunter in winning two titles and playing in the NCAA Tournament where they upset Baylor.
Guard – D’Marcus Simonds, Georgia State
D’Marcus Simonds was part of the second wave of Georgia State success in the decade, playing from 2016-19. He captured almost every award imaginable. Simonds was the freshman of the year in 2017 and the player of the year in 2018. He also took home the conference tournament’s most outstanding player award in 2018. Simonds had the first triple-double in school history as a sophomore.
For his career, he averaged 17.9 points, five rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game. He finished as the conference’s career leader in points produced per game. Simonds also finished in the top ten points produced and scoring average. He led Georgia State to one regular-season title and two NCAA Tournaments. He entered the NBA Draft after his junior year.
Guard – Elfrid Payton, Louisiana
Elfrid Payton was a defensive star during his time at Louisiana. He made the first-team twice during his career and had a tremendous junior season. Payton was not only named the league’s defensive player of the year, but also the national defensive player of the year for the 2013-14 season.
He averaged 14.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and two steals per game for his career. Payton led the league two times each in steals and assists during his career. He is seventh in conference history in career assist percentage. He helped the Ragin’ Cajuns make one NCAA appearance, and used his great junior season to declare for the NBA Draft, getting selected tenth overall by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Forward – LaRon Dendy, Middle Tennessee State
LaRon Dendy played just one season for the Blue Raiders after transferring from Iowa State, but he made it a memorable one. Dendy took home the league’s player of the year award for the 2011-12 season and was also an AP All-American honorable mention.
He averaged 14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game during that season. He led the Sun Belt Conference in eight statistical categories that year, including points, points produced, defensive rating, and win shares. Dendy helped Middle Tennessee State win the East Division title and make it to the quarterfinals of the NIT.
Forward – Kevin Hervey, Texas-Arlington
Kevin Hervey finishes out the team, playing for the Mavericks from 2014-18. He made the first-team twice and won the player of the year honor as a junior for the 2016-17 season. Hervey finished his career as the program’s leader in rebounds.
For his career, he averaged 15.5 points and eight rebounds per game. He finished second in league history in career defensive rebounds and also sits in the top ten rebounds, rebounds per game, and defensive rebound percentage. Hervey helped UTA win one regular-season title and make one quarterfinals appearance in the NIT.