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Kadre Gray wins third straight OUA MVP

Litha Ncanisa wins prestigious Ken Shields Award for achievements on and off the court
Laurentian's Kadre Gray has been named the OUA Men’s Basketball MVP for the third straight year. (File)

The OUA announced their men’s basketball award winners on Wednesday and a pair of Voyageurs were recognized for their contributions both on and off the court.

For the third consecutive season, the OUA Men’s Basketball MVP award will be coming to the Nickel City.  

After leading the league in scoring, fourth-year guard, Kadre Gray, is the first back-to-back-to-back winner of the honour since Carleton’s Phil Scrubb won three years in a row from 2011 to 2014. 

He is also just the third player in the history of the OUA to win the award in three consecutive seasons with former Voyageur, Ted Dongelmans, earning the honour from 1997-2000.

For the fourth season in a row at the OUA level and third time in four seasons at the U SPORTS level, Gray led the way in scoring with 523 points, good for a nation’s best 23.8 points per game average.  

He also finished second in the OUA and the nation in passing with 6.5 assists per game and grabbed 6.5 rebounds per contest, ranking him 18th in the OUA. 

Gray’s scoring ability over the course of his career saw him become just the fourth player in OUA history to crack the 2,000 point plateau and he is currently sitting second on the OUA’s all-time leaderboard with 2,072 points in just four seasons, 20 points back of the leader, Kevin Delude.

The league also showed just how difficult it is to defend Gray, sending him to the free-throw line 190 times this season, a spot from which he converted 174 of those shots, both OUA and U SPORTS highs, while his conversion rate of 91.6 per cent from the charity stripe led the OUA and was second in the country.  

On top of his shooting prowess, Gray notched one triple-double and one double-double this season and found himself one rebound or one assist shy of a double-double in another nine games.

With the latest accolades, Gray’s resume just continues to grow after being named the OUA and U SPORTS Rookie of the Year and earning OUA First-Team All-Star honours in the 2016-17 season.  

He was then named OUA and U SPORTS men’s basketball player of the year and the OUA and U SPORTS Male Athlete of the Year in 2017-18 and OUA and U SPORTS men’s basketball player of the year and OUA co-Male Athlete of the Year in 2018-19.  

The Ken Shields Award is given to the student-athlete who exhibits outstanding achievement in the areas of basketball, academics, and community involvement.

Litha Ncanisa has been a steady presence on the court over his four years at Laurentian but when he is not shutting down the opposition’s offence; he is constantly giving back to the local community.  

Ncanisa helps to facilitate the Voyageur Basketball Academy, which introduces basketball to local children and helps run the Voyageurs’ summer camps. 

The Cape Town, South Africa native also volunteers his time with the Voyageurs Read to Achieve program where he and teammates visit local elementary schools in the area and read with students for 30 minutes before performing a 30 to 45-minute basketball clinic. 

His biggest accomplishment, however, is being a co-founder of ULU alongside teammate Kadre Gray and assistant Coach Hediyeh Karimian.

ULU, which stands for Uluntu (Humanity), Lungisa (Justice) and Usawa (Equity), look to educate people about the inequalities that oppress racialized minorities. 

The group facilitates presentations and workshops on Black history, systemic and social inequalities at the micro, mezzo and macro levels of society, Canadian colonial education system and the impacts on racial minorities and influences of the media on social constructs.  

They have visited schools, business and will be the keynote speakers at this year’s Greater Sudbury Police Services Community and Police Awards Gala.

Gray and Ncanisa will now look to claim some U SPORTS hardware when their major awards are announced on March 4.