Player of the Year

Tayra Melendez

Melendez has led the University of Rhode Island’s women’s basketball team in points since coming to the school three years ago.  Last year she showed improvements in almost every major statistical category.  She averaged 10.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game her freshman year, while shooting just more than 21 percent beyond the arc.  Her scoring increased to 13 points, 2 assists and 5 rebounds per game, while recording a team-best 37.3 percent beyond the arc.  Expect her numbers to increase as the team tries to install a new dribble-drive offensive system, which should lead to more open shots for Melendez.

E.C. Matthews

Last season, sophomore E.C. Matthews averaged 14 points and 4 rebounds per game while shooting 42 percent from the field for the men’s basketball team.  The 6-foot-5 guard went on a 12-game stretch to end the season, during which he averaged 19 points and shot 45 percent per game.  Matthews was named the Atlantic 10 Co-Rookie of the Year at the end of the season.  He was one of three freshmen nationally last year to average at least 14 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists per game.  Without Munford, Matthews will be the one to bail the team out at the end of the shot clock and take the last shots of close games.  Especially after being named one of the 36 finalist for the Bob Cousy Award (Top College Point Guard), expect a big year out of him.

Rookie of the Year

Charise Wilson

Wilson comes to URI from St. Anthony’s in New York, where she led the Catholic High School Athletic Association in scoring with 17.1 points per game. “Girls Collegiate Basketball Report” ranked Wilson as a top 60-point guard nationally after being named the league’s MVP last year.  The 5-foot-5 guard should not only bring more scoring to the Rams, who were last in the conference in points per game, but also her ability to create for her team should increase the team’s 11.7 assists per game.

Jared Terrell

At Brewster Academy in Massachusetts, Terrell was ranked a four-star prospect and 70th overall in his class by ESPN.  Besides URI, he also had offers from Boston College, Cincinnati, Oklahoma State and Providence College.  Terrell fits in perfectly with the loss of Munford, the Rams’ leading scorer for the past two years.  Aside from Matthews and forwards Jordan Hare and Gilvydas Biruta, Terrell should not find too much difficulty in getting open shots.  The 6-foot-3, 220-pound guard showed his athleticism last month when he won the slam-dunk competition at Rhody Madness

Breakout Player of the Year

Sydney Lewis

Lewis showed drastic improvements last year in every major statistical category.  She averaged career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, minutes, steals and field goal percentage.  After averaging just 13 minutes her freshman year and 9.2 her sophomore year, Lewis played 24.5 minutes per game last season.   She also averaged 6.5 points per game and had the second-highest shooting percentage on the team.  As a senior this year, expect to see even more improvement.

Jordan Hare

Two years ago, Hare recorded the third-most blocks in Rhode Island history as a freshman.  The 6-foot-10 center’s first campaign was filled with crazy, athletic highlights and defensive miscues.  Hare took the year off last season due to personal reasons and retains three years of eligibility.  Before he announced his leave, though, he showed significant improvements to his game during his team’s summer trip to Europe.  Now that Hare is alongside four other skilled big men, he should be allowed to excel in rebounding and off-ball defense.