Five Eagles Earn Team Honors

May 31, 2006

Eastern Washington University men's basketball players Deuce Smith, Rodney Stuckey, Derek Risper, Neal Zumwalt and Matt Penoncello were honored recently at the Eagle Basketball Awards Banquet.

Smith, the lone senior on EWU's 2005-06 squad that finished 15-15 overall and 9-5 in the Big Sky Conference, was honored as team captain and co-Best Defender. He shared the defender award with Penoncello, a graduate of Moscow, Idaho, High School who made his Eagle debut as a redshirt freshman last season.

Risper earned Most Improved honors and Zumwalt was selected as Most Inspirational. Risper is from Moreno Valley, Calif., and Zumwalt is from Portland, Ore. (Lincoln HS).

But the night belonged to freshman sensation Rodney Stuckey, who earned more than 20 different honors during the 2005-06 season. He broke eight school records after averaging 24.2 points per game that ranked eighth in NCAA Division I -- tops among freshmen.

The graduate of Kentwood High School in Kent, Wash., was given the team's MVP award at the banquet. He was also recognized for being the National Freshman of the Year and an honorable mention All-America selection by Associated Press.

Signee Finishes 26-0 in Baseball . . .

Eagle Basketball point guard signee Michael Taylor from Brewster, Wash., High School closed his prep career with a perfect 26-0 record as a pitcher for the school's baseball team.

He helped lead the Bears to their second-straight State 1A title with a pair of victories May 26-27, 2006, in Yakima, Wash. He pitched a two-hitter in a 5-1 victory over Kalama in the championship game as Brewster won its 49th-straight game dating back to a semifinal loss in the 2004 State Tournament. He finished the title game with 11 strikeouts.

In a 22-1 victory over Seattle Christian in the semifinals, he had five RBI in the first inning alone as Brewster scored 11 runs in that frame. He finished his senior year with a batting average of nearly .500 and a 9-0 pitching record with an earned run average of about 2.00.

On the basketball court as a senior, Taylor was selected as the State 1A Player of the Year by the Seattle Times, and was also selected by that newspaper as a second team All-State selection including players from all classifications. He averaged 25.2 points, 9.7 rebounds, 6.7 assists and nearly three steals per game in leading 24-2 Brewster to its second-straight runner-up finish in the State 1A Tournament where he was MVP.

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