MONTECITO, Calif. - Junior guard Abram Carrasco was named Golden State Athletic Conference Player of the Year and head coach John Moore earned Coach of the Year honors when the GSAC announced its annual awards on Tuesday. Senior forward Justin Bessard also earned a spot on the 12-man All-GSAC Team, along with Carrasco.
Carrasco’s emergence during conference play is a huge reason why the Warriors (26-4, 15-3 GSAC) won their first GSAC regular season title since 2013.
“I think the hardest thing to do is to achieve when everbody’s eyes are on you,” Moore said. “In this case, he significantly improved his scoring average by three or four points from what it was (entering conference play) … I think there was improvement in every single category.”
Carrasco averaged 20.8 points per game during GSAC play to top the conference, while his 5.1 assists per game ranked second. He was named GSAC Player of the Week in consecutive weeks in January and set a Westmont career high on Feb. 6 with 31 points in a win over William Jessup.
The Tucson native scored 20 or more points in 11 of 18 conference games, including in five straight from Jan. 23 – Feb. 6. He just missed out on 20 points in three other GSAC games by scoring 19 points.
“For a guard to shoot 50.8% for the year, that is outrageous,” Moore said. “In this day in age, it’s unheard of because of how many 3-pointers are taken by guards. Unless you’re going to shoot 50% from the 3-point line, that’s automatically going to drop your field goal percentage and you don’t get a lot of the post-ups that post guys get.”
Moore has been particularly impressed with Carrasco’s ability to drive to the basket.
“Bram is so good at getting to the rim and finishing plays,” Moore said. “That’s why his field goal percentage is where it’s at. He is a dynamic, high level Division I player in terms of his ability to finish at the basket. There are very few guys I see at the Division I level that can do what Bram can do.”
Carrasco’s former Pima C.C. teammate, Bessard, joined him on the all-conference team to round out the Warriors’ selections. Bessard is second on the team in scoring, averaging 14.7 points per game, while he leads the team with 6.7 rebounds per contest.
“Bram has certainly been Batman and JB has been his Robin,” Moore said of their partnership. “JB has been so good at combining being a low post scorer and a guy who can step out and shoot it. If somebody had to just sit in the paint and not worry about JB out at the 3-point line, Bram couldn’t get in there and go up against a guy like Tim Soares (GSAC Defensive Player of the Year) without having to deal with him in the middle.
“I think his 3-point shooting has steadily improved throughout the year. It got better in GSAC, just like Bram’s field goal percentage. JB has been a wonderful addition to our program, but I think the two of them synergistically are two guys who knew how to play with each other before they even got here.”
Moore believes the additions of Carrasco and Bessard, along with that of Hunter Sipe, have been instrumental to the team’s success this season.
“For our team to have the kind of success we’ve had, it was like a great recipe – a dash of this, a dash of that. Throw in some of your favorite spices and that’s we got this year,” Moore said. “It’s really uncommon in that regard, having JB and Bram together with the experience they’ve had and the high level they’ve already played at, as well as Hunter Sipe.
“Those three guys being able to come in having had community college experience at a very high level, they’ve all been winners. Our team is filled with winners, so they were accustomed to winning before they even got here and we’ve just been able to go along for the ride.”
Moore was recognized as GSAC Coach of the Year for the third time in his Westmont tenure. He picked up his 550th win at the helm of the Warriors earlier this season against Hope International.
“You don’t have Coach of the Year honors without Player of the Year honors or without players who can play the way these guys have played this year,” Moore said. “So much of this goes to Jeff Azain, Rob Goodrow and Landon Boucher. This has been the greatest staff I’ve ever been a part of.
“What we do is very hard to learn quickly and to have our players learn as quickly as they have and to have the success as quickly as we’ve had, it takes four coaches trying to do the best that they can.
“From my perspective, this Coach of the Year award is not for me, it’s for Jeff Azain, Rob Goodrow and Landon Boucher. We all get a piece of it, but it’s mainly for the players who create the kind of successful environment that we’ve had this year. The coaches get to help direct that, but the players have to listen, learn and apply. They’ve done that this year.”
Moore also credits captain Jordan Spaschak for his influence on the team despite being limited to just one game because of injury.
“What I’m most encouraged by is guys like Jordan Spaschak, who won’t get a lot of acclaim for what he accomplished this year in terms of helping to mold from a player’s perspective,” Moore said. “Coaches get a chance to do some of that, but if there’s a player who’s acting in the role of a captain and a coach, it makes it dramatically quite a bit different.”
Westmont returns to the court on Friday at 7:45 p.m. as the top seed and host of the GSAC Tournament. The Warriors get a First Round bye straight into the conference semifinals, where the team will play either fourth-seeded Arizona Christian or fifth-seeded William Jessup.
Article courtesy of Westmont Athletics.