Occidental's Whitman Earns West Region Player of the Year Honor
Occidental's Whitman Earns West Region
Player of the Year Honor
Courtsey Occidental Sports Information
Los Angeles, CA. (March 19, 2008) - Dedication,
determination, drive and the desire to compete have followed Connor
Whitman his entire life and he is reaping the benefits of that
following a successful four-year career as a member of the
Occidental College men's basketball team.
Whitman, a 6-foot-1 guard from Los Angeles, Calif., was the first Tiger basketball player in the history of the program to be named the D3Hoops.com West Region Player of the Year. At the beginning of March he was honored as the SCIAC Player of the Year and also earned Second Team All-District as voted on by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).
As of March 2 Whitman's 3.7 three-pointers per game and his 46.3 3FG% placed him fifth and ninth among all Division III players in the nation. Whitman was also nationally ranked 46th in free-throw percentage (84.9) and 97th with 18.2 points per game.
A three-time Oxy Most Improved award recipient, Whitman has scored 1325 career points, including 284 three-pointers, for the Tigers.
"Connor winning our Most Improved Player Award three straight years speaks volumes about his work ethic," offered Tigers Head Coach Brian Newhall. "He was a marked man throughout the year and still produced big numbers. Not only was he an offensive threat but his defense and rebounding were just as strong."
Whitman credits his transformation into a "complete basketball player" to the Oxy coaching staff.
"During my entire career the coaches have consistently pushed me to develop my entire game. They were never satisfied and were great at pushing me to improve by pointing out areas I needed to work on."
Some players don't like that coaching style, but Whitman capitalized and thrived on it.
"As my basketball game progressed the more things they pointed out to me. They wanted to continue to see me grow, and I was able to accomplish that."
Whitman's basketball days are not over yet, though. Coach Newhall is in the process of helping him find a place to play in Europe, either in Germany or Denmark. Ideally Whitman would like to play for a few years overseas before coming back to the states to begin his own business.
"My brother and I have already begun developing ideas for a business. I am hoping that living and playing basketball in Europe will also spark some additional ideas that I can bring back with me to the US that will enhance the products we have already begun researching."
Just as he has been successful on the court, Whitman has thrived in the classrooms passing his Economics Comprehensives with distinction.
"The Occidental faculty teaches you the background knowledge that you need to think on your own, allowing you to create your own ideas. This will help me achieve my goal of starting my own business," he said.
Not only have the faculty provided guidance in the classroom, but Whitman has gotten to know his professors outside the classroom as well. "The small class sizes make the setting more personal and allow for a more interactive atmosphere where we are always learning as much from each other as we are from the professors."
Another lesson Whitman has learned is balance. He has been able to focus on his education while playing the sport he loves.
"Oxy provides the perfect blend of basketball and academics. I can truly say that I was challenged both on and off of the court. The economics faculty are outstanding and the basketball program continues to raise the bar."
"Coach Newhall and his staff are great at scheduling games against Division I opponents to help you see where you stand with the highest level of competition and compete very highly at the level you are at."
Occidental basketball players think they are just as good as a lot of lower level DI programs.
"The difference between an Oxy athlete and a low D1 athlete is that they were more known in high school and received more publicity, while the Oxy athlete is a "late bloomer.'"
Throughout the course of a four-year career, however, student-athletes at Oxy enhance their skills and develop into competitive basketball players as well.
Oxy basketball has become a Top-20 program, thanks in large part to the success between 2004 and 2008. Whitman and six of his senior teammates were instrumental in creating a winning atmosphere that took the Tigers to three playoff appearances in four years and clinched back-to-back SCIAC Championships for the first time since 1974.
"As we improved as a unit we gained momentum and built confidence for ourselves," he said of the basketball program at Oxy. "We learned how to win. We became accustomed to winning and we wanted to carry that tradition on."
Winning came from hard work coupled with talent.
Whitman led the Tigers to a 22-6 overall record in 2008. He
averaged 18.3 points per game, shooting 41.3 % from the field with
106 three-pointers (44.4 3FG%) and 84.2% from the line. He added 68
assists, 48 steals, eight blocks and 4.3 rebounds per game for the
Tigers. A trio of times Whitman was named the SCIAC Athlete of the
Week during the season. He led the conference in points per game,
free throw percentage, three-point field goal percentage and
"Being named the West Region Player of the Year is the greatest individual honor I have received as an athlete and although I have worked very hard on my own to raise my level of competition," Whitman went on "It is a true testament to my teammates and coaches who pushed me every day, which helped me to get to the level I am at now."