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Yates earns first-team All-Sun Belt honors

Sophomore regarded as one of league's premier players

March 4, 2008 · MT Media Relations

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee sophomore standout Desmond "Boogie" Yates was not on any preseason all-conference teams but by the end of the regular season the 6-foot-7 forward had accomplished enough to be regarded as one of the best players in the Sun Belt Conference.

Yates was named to the five-member All-Sun Belt Conference first team in a vote of league coaches and selected media after averaging 15.8 points and shooting 57 percent from the field. He is the youngest player to make the first team in terms of eligibility and he is the first Blue Raider to make the first team as a sophomore.

"When you, as a sophomore, are not any anyone's preseason team and end up on the first team at the end of the season that's a huge credit to (Yates) and his offseason workouts, lifting, conditioning, as well as the way he has worked throughout the season," said Middle Tennessee head coach Kermit Davis. "The best thing about Boogie is his approach to practice and the way he attacks it every day. He's improved so much this year and the great thing is he can be even better."

Yates is the first Blue Raider to earn a spot on the All-SBC first-team since Tommy Gunn was selected to it in 2003 and 2004. He is the third Blue Raider to earn first-team, joining Gunn and Lee Nosse (2002).

"I am very appreciative to earn a spot on the All-Sun Belt first team," Yates said. "There are a lot of great players in our league so it means a lot to know the coaches and media think of you as one of the best. My coaches and teammates share in this award because my coaches are always working with me, helping me improve my game and challenging me. My teammates do a good job of setting me up for shots and getting me the ball in position to score. This is definitely a team award."

Yates, who was one of the top freshmen in the league in 2006-07, is fifth in the Sun Belt in scoring with a team-best 15.8 average. His 57 percent showing from the field is third in the league and he is also among conference leaders in rebounding, free-throw percentage and minutes played. The Somerville, Tenn., native took his game to an even higher level in Sun Belt games only, where he averaged 18.4 points (fifth in the SBC) and 5.1 rebounds.

Of all his numbers, Yates said he is most pleased with his improvement in terms of rebounding after showing a 1.2 carom per game increase from his freshman year.

"I still did have not rebounded as well as I should consistently this year but it's been better," Yates said. "I really believe not being a better rebounder cost me being Freshman of the Year in the Sun Belt last year and I really wanted to improve that part of my game. I can still do better, buy I have improved."

Davis agrees with Yates' assessment.

"(Yates) has become a better rebounder but he can rebound the ball so much better and that's a great positive," Davis said. "He is averaging more than 5.1 rebounds per game in league games and there is a direct correlation to his scoring. When Desmond is offensive rebounding the ball better he scores at a higher rate and the numbers reflect that."

Davis also said Yates' appearance on the first-team All-Sun Belt squad as a sophomore makes him a marked man.

"You look at guys like Courtney Lee and Bo McCalebb. Once you make an all-league team as a sophomore you are a marked man. You can be better but your numbers may not be as great because of the attention you draw," Davis said. "I do believe (Yates) will embrace the challenge and work to get even better."

Yates has produced 22 double-figure scoring games this season, including nine straight and 15 of the last 16. He has 40 double figure scoring games in his career and has led Middle Tennessee in scoring 24 times. Yates has produced nine of his 13 career games with 20-plus points this season and the team is 9-4 in those games.

He has 801 career points, which is 47th all-time, and Yates is on pace to break into the 1,000-point club as a junior.

Sun Belt Conference All-Conference Team
First Team

Carlos Monroe - Florida Atlantic, Jr., F
Desmond Yates - Middle Tennessee, Soph., F
Bo McCalebb - New Orleans, Sr., G
Demetric Bennett - South Alabama, Sr., G
Courtney Lee - Western Kentucky, Sr., G

Second Team
Collin Dennis - North Texas, Jr., G
Josh White - North Texas, Fr., G
Daon Merritt - South Alabama, Sr., G
O'Darien Bassett - Troy, Sr., G
Tyrone Brazelton - Western Kentucky, Sr., G

Third Team
Ryan Wedel - Arkansas State, So., G
Alex Galindo - Florida International, Jr., F
Russell Hicks - Florida International, Jr., C
Brandon Davis - South Alabama, Jr., F
Domonic Tilford - South Alabama, Jr., G

Player of the Year
Courtney Lee - Western Kentucky, Sr., G

Defensive Player of the Year
Bo McCalebb - New Orleans, Sr., G

Newcomer of the Year
Collin Dennis - North Texas, Jr., G

Freshman of the Year
Josh White - North Texas, Fr., G

Coach of the Year
Ronnie Arrow, South Alabama

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