Eagle senior point guard earns first team All-Big Sky honors and junior forward receives honorable mention and is league’s Newcomer of the Year
A pair of Eastern Washington University men’s basketball players with a combined 23 performances with 20 points or more have been selected to the All-Big Sky Conference squad announced Thursday (March 1) by the league as selected by the Big Sky’s nine head coaches.
Senior point guard Cliff Colimon earned first team All-Big Sky honors as one of the top six players in the league, while junior forward Collin Chiverton earned honorable mention and was the league’s Newcomer of the Year. The high scoring duo has led Eastern in scoring in 27 of 30 EWU games this season, with Colimon scoring at least 20 on 11 occasions and Chiverton hitting that mark 12 times.
Eastern hasn’t had a first team selection in the Big Sky in five seasons, with Rodney Stuckey and Paul Butorac the last Eagles to be named to that exclusive club in the 2006-07 season. Chiverton is only the third Eagle to be selected as the Newcomer of the Year, joining Chris Hester (2001-02 season) and Melvin Lewis (1994-95) on that list.
Colimon, a 6-foot senior guard from Brooklyn, N.Y., earned his first-ever Big Sky Player of the Week honor this week after continuing his late-season magic for the Eagles. He averaged 17.9 points and 4.8 assists in 16 league games, including a career-high 28-point performance on Senior Night on Feb. 28 in a 77-64 win over Idaho State. He has averaged 15.9 points and 5.0 assists in 30 games overall.
“We’re really excited for Cliff – it’s been five years since we’ve had somebody on the first team,” said first-year Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “He deserves a lot of credit because this is his third coach in three years -- the poor kid has to adjust to a new staff each year. He’s done very well, and we’re extremely proud of Cliff and happy for him.”
Chiverton, a 6-foot-5 transfer from City College of San Francisco, has averaged 14.7 points and 2.9 3-pointers per game this season. But foot and back injuries during the league season limited him to averages of 11.2 points and 2.3 treys in league play. He is originally from San Jose, Calif.
“Collin was the first signee we had, and to be recognized as the Newcomer of the Year in the conference says a lot,” said Hayford. “And he did that that battling injuries the whole season – he hasn’t played a whole game healthy this entire year. For him to be as productive as he has been this year makes us excited to see what his senior season can be like.”
Colimon and Chiverton have led Eastern to a 14-16 record overall and 8-8 mark in the Big Sky – Eastern’s first non-losing Big Sky campaign since the 2006-07 season. The Eagles host Idaho State on Saturday (March 3) at 2:05 p.m. in a quarterfinal game in the Big Sky Conference Championships.
“Hopefully these two players and the rest of our team are going to step up and play a great game against Idaho State,” Hayford added. “This is our first time to host a Big Sky Conference playoff game in six years too. Good things are happening in our program at Eastern and hopefully this is a good foundation for many more accomplishments like these to come in future years.”
Colimon has scored at least 20 points on 11 occasions this season, including five of his last seven outings with a 21.1 average in those seven games. He is coming on strong at the end of the season much like he did last year when he had his previous career high with 27 points in last year’s Big Sky Conference Tournament against Weber State. In his final three games of his junior season, Colimon led EWU to a pair of victories and averaged 19.0 points per game.
In Eastern’s victories this season, Colimon is averaging 17.8 points per game on 44.2 percent shooting from the field (33-of-83 from the 3-point arc for 39.8 percent). In EWU’s losses, he is averaging 14.3 points on 34.7 percent shooting from the field (30-of-89 3-point shooting for 33.7 percent).
For the season, Colimon is second in the Big Sky Conference in assists (5.0 per game), fourth in scoring (15.9), fifth in steals (1.6), seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.5), sixth in 3-pointers made per game (2.1), fifth in free throw percentage (.802) and third in minutes played (34.9). In statistics from league games only, he ranks third in scoring (17.9), second in assists (4.8), and second in minutes played (36.6).
His 63 3-pointers made this season rank eighth in school history and his 172 attempts are eighth. Despite playing just two seasons for EWU, he ranks sixth in school history for career 3-pointers with 111, and is ninth in attempts with 300.
Colimon also had a near triple-double versus Northern Colorado on Feb. 15 when he had 22 points, nine assists and nine rebounds in EWU’s come-from-behind 79-76 win. One league game later, he scored 21 points with six rebounds and three assists in EWU’s 85-78 win at Idaho State on Feb. 23. He also had a 22-point effort on 8-of-16 shooting from the field in EWU’s Big Sky Conference-opening 82-66 victory over Montana State on Dec. 28.
Chiverton has had 12 20-point performances as an Eagle – including five-straight games from Jan. 12-26. He is second in the league in 3-pointers made per game with an average of 2.9 (his 3.0 average ranked 15th in NCAA Division I through games of Feb. 26), sixth in scoring (14.7), 10th in 3-point percentage (.412) and seventh in free throw percentage (.790). For the season, Chiverton is 86-of-206 from the 3-point stripe for 41.7 percent and 58-of-177 inside the arc for 32.8 percent. His 87 3-pointers are second in school history and his 211 attempts are also second.
However, injuries have plagued him during the league season. Most recently, a back injury suffered early in the game against Idaho State on Feb. 23 held him to three minutes of playing time in that game and nine versus Portland State two nights later. He played in only 11 minutes in EWU’s last outing on Feb. 28 versus Idaho State.
An off-season stress fracture in his foot was reinjured over the Christmas break, and the 6-foot-6 Chiverton has been hampered ever since. In fact, it was painful enough to limit him to 10 minutes, six shots and four points in the first half against Northern Colorado on Feb. 15. Eastern trailed 43-29 at halftime, but rallied for a 79-76 win, as Chiverton made 4-of-6 shots and scored 14 points after intermission to finish with 19 points in 21 minutes. He followed that with 20 points in 26 minutes at UC Irvine on Feb. 18.
He didn’t play in the first half against NAU on Jan. 7, but scored 12 points in the second half – including EWU’s first 10 of the half to give the Eagles the lead for good in the 76-59 win. He followed that with 21 points in just 25 minutes of action versus Sacramento State on Jan. 12, 21 in 18 minutes versus Northern Colorado on Jan. 14 and 26 in 26 minutes at Seattle on Jan. 16. Thus, in those four games, he scored nearly a point a minute – 80 in 83 minutes – while making 19-of-34 (56 percent) from the 3-point arc.
He followed that by playing 37 minutes against Portland State on Jan. 21, and scored 22 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the 3-point stripe and 7-of-21 overall. His fifth-straight 20-point performance came versus Montana on Jan. 26 when he made 5-of-10 shots overall and 4-of-6 from the 3-point stripe, as well as 8-of-12 free throws.
Chiverton opened his Eastern career in a big way, scoring 25 points in Eastern’s 77-69 loss at Gonzaga on Nov. 11. A former redshirt at GU rival Saint Mary’s in California, Chiverton made 6-of-12 shots from the 3-point arc and 8-of-24 shots from the field against Gonzaga. He scored 25 again in EWU’s 70-61 win over South Dakota, making 9-of-21 shots overall and 6-of-13 from the 3-point arc. He added a third 20-point performance with 20 points in EWU’s 89-72 upset of Hawai’i on Nov. 19.
Chiverton’s debut versus GU was the best for an Eagle since Eastern moved to NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season. The previous best came a year ago when Chiverton’s Eastern teammate Tremayne Johnson scored 21 in a 67-60 loss at San Jose State. Interestingly, current Detroit Piston Rodney Stuckey scored only 14 points in his debut against Pacific Lutheran in the 2005-06 season. Chiverton’s scoring output was also the second-best season-opening performance by an Eagle since David Peed scored 29 points on Nov. 25, 1989, in EWU’s 96-84 loss to BYU.
After leaving Saint Mary’s – a team he scored 18 against on Dec. 20 -- Chiverton played one season at Salt Lake Community College before leading City College of San Francisco to the 2010-11 California Community Colleges Athletic Association title. He averaged 19 points per game as a sophomore, including an average of 30 per game in the tournament, as San Francisco finished the season 32-1 with a 27-game winning streak.