SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference announced its December athletes of the month for men’s and women’s basketball and wrestling Thursday, highlighting excellence among student-athletes during the month.
Tre’ McLean, Chattanooga, Sr., G
Chattanooga guard Tre’ McLean guided the Mocs to a 5-1 mark during December and was named the league’s Player of the Week on Dec. 13. The senior averaged 16.2 points per game during the month and added 5.5 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.3 assists during December. He shot 49 percent from the field and connected on 48 percent of his 3-point field goals, while shooting 83 percent at the free-throw line. The Charleston, South Carolina, native led UTC in scoring three times during the month, including a career-high 35 points in a win over Marshall. He added a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds in a win over Jacksonville State.
Others nominated: Preston Parks (The Citadel), T.J. Cromer (ETSU), Devin Sibley (Furman), Ria’n Holland (Mercer), Marvin Smith (UNCG), Christen Cunningham (Samford) and Eric Garcia (Wofford).
Tianna Tarter, ETSU, Jr., G
ETSU guard Tianna Tarter paced the Bucs to a 5-3 record in December and led the conference in scoring with 22.8 points per game. In eight games for the Bucs, the junior shot an impressive 51.0 percent from the field, averaged a team-high 6.3 rebounds per game and ranked second in the SoCon in both assists (5.0 apg) and steals (2.5 spg). Tarter’s peak performances came in a three-game stretch against Campbell, Vanderbilt and Tennessee Tech. In the Bucs’ 56-55 victory at Campbell, Tarter banked in a game-winning floater from the middle of the paint with two seconds remaining, finishing with 20 points. Two days later against Vanderbilt, Tarter scored a career-high 35 points, the most by any SoCon player this season, on 15 made field goals. At Tennessee Tech, the Johnson City, Tennessee, native recorded her second straight 30-point performance and grabbed 10 rebounds to give the Bucs the 82-76 victory. Tarter joined ETSU’s 1,000-point club against Elon on Dec. 17. Tarter currently leads the SoCon in scoring (20.5 ppg) and is second in steals (2.5 spg) and third in assists (4.7 apg).
Others nominated: Kahlia Lawrence (Mercer), Nadine Soliman (UNCG), Hannah Nichols (Samford), Jasmine Joyner (Chattanooga), Raziyah Farrington (Western Carolina) and Chloe Wanink (Wofford).
Chris Vassar, Gardner-Webb, R-Jr.
Gardner-Webb 149-pounder Chris Vassar went 8-0 in December, posting a trio of dual wins as the Runnin’ Bulldogs went 2-1 and competed at the Cleveland State Open. Vassar earned bonus points in five of his eight matches, recording three pins and two major decisions. The New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, product opened his month with a win over Virginia’s Samuel Krivus and followed that up with a pin of VMI’s Steven Smith in just 2:05. Vassar completed the dual portion of his month with another fall, sticking Kent State’s Tim Rooney in 1:55. The redshirt junior made it three straight falls when he pinned Lake Erie’s Zach Ruggles in 1:19 in the first round of the Cleveland State Open. Vassar would win four more bouts – knocking off Michigan’s Malik Amine, Ohio’s Nick Vestal, Virginia’s Krivus and GWU teammate Cole Graves – to win the 149-pound title at the tournament. He earned major decisions against Vestal and Graves, posting 8-0 shutouts against both of them.
Others nominated: Aaron Walker (The Citadel), Jared Johnson (Chattanooga) and Neal Richards (VMI).
Southern Conference December Athletes of the Month
Men’s basketball Tre’ McLean, Chattanooga
Women’s basketball Tianna Tarter, ETSU
Wrestling Chris Vassar, Gardner-Webb