Two Dolphins earn all-conference recognition

March 4, 2008

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Sophomore point guard Ben Smith and freshman forward Ayron Hardy received all-Atlantic Sun Conference recognition on Tuesday from the league's coaches.

Smith, the team's leader in scoring, steals and assists, was named first team all-conference. His award marks the second straight year JU has been represented on the first team as Jesse Kimbrough was selected a year ago.

Hardy was named to the all-freshman team after an impressive season that saw him average almost eight points per game and five rebounds. His selection gives JU four all-freshman team honorees in Cliff Warren's three years as head coach.

"Both of these young men are deserving of their honor, but it is also a tribute to their teammates who helped them raise their game," Warren said. "Ben has been a leader for us all season, whether it's in practice, in meetings or in the classroom. Ayron has done everything we have asked of him and has consistently improved as the year has progressed."

After being named to the all-freshman team a year ago, Smith has taken on the mantle of being the Dolphins' top scorer as well as distributor. His 140 assists this season rank in the top 10 on the school's single-season list.

He has also developed a well-rounded game, improving his ability to get to the free throw line. The second leading free throw shooter in the A-Sun, Smith has hit 165 free throws this season and is fifth on the school's all-time list, just four away from passing JU legend Roger Strickland for fourth.

His free throw total has him tied for 10th on the A-Sun's all-time list, just 34 behind the league record set by Belmont's Adam Mark in 2003.

Hardy came to JU after a stellar prep career at Huffman High School in Birmingham, Ala., and has started every game this season. He has scored in double figures nine times, pulled down 10 rebounds in a game twice and recorded a double-double against Stetson in the conference opener with 14 points and 15 rebounds.

His brightest moment came against Savannah State as his running jumper as time expired capped an epic rally in the final minute to topple the homestanding Tigers.

With his inclusion to the all-freshman team, four of JU's starting five is now an all-freshman team selection - joining Smith, Lehmon Colbert and Marcus Allen are former honorees.