OBU trio named to All-GAC Teams; Eaker Coach of the Year

Oklahoma Baptist Athletics
Brantly Thompson
Jarius Hicklen
Harrison Stoddart
Coach Jason Eaker

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – Three Oklahoma Baptist men's basketball players, as well as head coach Jason Eaker, were honored by the Great American Conference on Tuesday afternoon as they announced their all-conference team and major award winners.

Brantly Thompson and Jarius Hicklen were named to the All-GAC First Team, while Harrison Stoddart earned a spot on the All-GAC Second Team. Eaker was named GAC Coach of the Year.

Thompson, a senior from Tuttle, was a unanimous choice to the first team as he comes off an incredible year, including 14.1 points per game, 4.6 rebound per game, and 3.5 assists per game. Thompson led the team with 41 made 3-pointers on the year and was a massive piece on the defensive end, adding 15 total steals, good for second on the team.

Thompson saw his highest scoring season of his career, up from 8.9 averaged his junior year and 11.3 averaged his sophomore year. He reached the 1,000 career point plateau on Feb. 6 against Southeastern, becoming the 50th player in OBU basketball history to do so and scored 20 or more points in five games this season including a career-high 25 in a 90-80 win over Southwestern Oklahoma State on Jan. 28.

Thompson reached numerous career marks in his senior season including 10 made field goals against SWOSU and six made 3-pointers on two separate occasions –  Jan. 14 against East Central and Jan. 25 against Southern Nazarene. 

Thompson consistently defended the opponent's top offensive player and drew tough defenders week in and week out.

Hicklen, a sophomore from Dallas, put together an outstanding second season as he led the team with 17.1 points per game, good for second in the GAC in the scoring and a huge tick up from the 9.1 point per game he averaged his freshman year. 

He was the top scorer on the floor nearly every night and hit new career marks in nearly every category in 2021. Hicklen scored 20 or more points in six games this season including a career-high 31 points on Feb. 27 against Southwestern Oklahoma State with a personal-best six made 3-pointers.

Hicklen saw every category go up statistically including 46% from the field, 42% from behind the arc, and 4.2 rebounds per game. He hit career marks in rebounds with eight against West Texas A&M on Jan. 5, and assists with four on Feb. 20 against Northwestern Oklahoma State.

Hicklen matched or went over his career high four different times this season. He performed at this level despite missing five games earlier in the year.

Stoddart, a senior from Edmond, averaged a career-high 14.3 points per game to go with 7.9 rebounds per game and 25 blocks. He was efficient, shooting 56% from the field and 81% from the line. Stoddart's 25 blocks are 17th in the country while his blocks per game are third in the GAC.

Stoddart led the GAC with seven double-doubles including four in his final five games as he has been unstoppable on the boards. He hit his career-high in points on Jan. 16 against SWOSU, scoring 27 points on 10 makes, also a career-best, to go with six boards and two blocks. That win began an eight-game winning streak for OBU including winning 13 of their next 14 games.

Stoddart scored 20 or more points four times and had 10 made field goals again against SWOSU on Feb. 13. Stoddart also hit a career high in assists with five against East Central on Jan. 14, and free throws made with eight on Jan. 5 against West Texas A&M.

A presence down low, Stoddart altered shots and was tremendous on the boards, making a huge impact on the defensive end.

In his third season, Eaker has led OBU to a 14-4 overall record and a 14-3 record in the GAC one year removed from taking OBU to its first NCAA Tournament appearance. The Bison will look to return to the NCAA Tournament and have a great resume under the leadership of Eaker.

OBU has won 13 of its last 14 games and took home the GAC Western Division Championship, the first conference title for OBU since 2011-12. The Bison enter this week's GAC Tournament as the No. 1 seed and will look to cut the nets down with a tournament championship and an automatic qualifier.

OBU has won seven straight road games, going 7-2 both inside Noble and away from their home arena. Eaker also became the second-fastest coach in OBU's history to reach 50 wins when the Bison clinched the division against SNU on Feb. 8.

The Bison played Ouachita Wednesday at home in the GAC Tournament quarterfinals.

Note: For the first time in the NCAA Division II era, the OBU men's basketball team is ranked. The Bison check in at No. 24 in the latest D2SIDA Media National Poll which was released Tuesday.