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  • Daniel Hooker

WCU’s Woolbright Collects Player of the Year, All-SoCon Plaudits

Ranked among both the Southern Conference and NCAA statistical leaders all season long, Western Carolina senior guard Vonterius Woolbright today made it official as the league’s preseason pick for top player fulfilled the prognostication, collecting both first-team All-Southern Conference plaudits and was named the 2023-24 Malcolm U. Pitt Southern Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Year.


Woolbright was the lone Catamount selected to the conference’s 15-member all-conference team that was jointly selected by the league’s head coaches and a voting media representative to compile just one unified team. He improved upon a second-team selection by both the coaches and media following the 2022-23 season. Woolbright is also WCU’s first, first-team All-SoCon selection since 2019-20 when Carlos Dotson landed on both the coaches and media squad and was joined on the coaches' first team by Mason Faulkner.


Additionally, Woolbright is just the fourth Catamount men’s basketball player to earn the conference’s top honor all-time joining two-time honoree Frankie King (1993-94, 1994-95), Anquell McCollum (1995-96), and Bobby Phillips, who was recognized by the coaches in 1997-98.


Woolbright looks to add an exclamation point to what has been a historic 2023-24 season at this week’s 2024 Ingles Southern Conference Basketball Championship at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center- Asheville. The Albany, Ga., collected a SoCon-record nine weekly honors from the league office, eclipsing the benchmark set by former Davidson star – and SoCon Hall of Famer – Stephen Curry back in 2008-09. Woolbright has also garnered each of the three SoCon Player of the Month awards handed out to date, collecting the accolade in November, December, and January.


Additionally, Woolbright was twice recognized as an Oscar Robertson Trophy National Player of the Week while also landing among the 40 finalists in consideration for the trophy and for All-America plaudits from the USBWA. He also appeared on the mid-season watch list for the Lou Henson Award handed out by to the top mid-major player nationally.


Scoring in double figures in all 31 games to date, Woolbright is the first player in the SoCon to finish the regular season averaging over 20 points per game since VMI’s Bubba Parham in 2018-19, while also becoming the first Catamount to average over 20 points per game since Kevin Martin (24.9 ppg) back in 2003-04. Woolbright eclipsed the 20-point plateau 19 times with a trio of 30-point performances including a career-best 36 points at home against Chattanooga in late January. He averaged a double-double with a SoCon-best 21.4 points and 12.1 rebounds per game coming on a SoCon-high average of 34.6 minutes per game. He also ranked second in the league with 5.5 assists per game.


His averages rank him 10th in the NCAA in scoring and second nationally in rebounding which includes leading the nation in defensive boards per game at 9.77 per contest. Woolbright additionally climbed to 30th in the country with his assists average.


Woolbright enters the postseason ranked second nationally with 26 double-double efforts that include an NCAA-best five triple-doubles – one of just five players nationally to accomplish the statistical feat multiple times this season and two more than second-place in the category (Deivon Smith, Utah – 3).


The Southern Conference media Player of the Year award is named after Malcolm U. Pitt, who served as director of athletics at Richmond for 25 years before retiring in 1967. Pitt also coached football, track, basketball, and baseball at Richmond, the latter for 35 years. He is a member of the American Association of College Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame and the Helms Athletic Foundation Hall of Fame.


Fourth-seeded Western Carolina (22-9) enters this week's 2024 Ingles Southern Conference Basketball Championship riding just the second 20-win season as an NCAA Division I program all-time, while also matching the most wins since 2009-10, the program’s best since moving to D-I. Woolbright leads the Catamounts into the quarterfinal round tournament on Saturday evening against fifth-seeded Furman in a seasonal series rubber match as the two teams split the regular season matchups, both winning on their home court.


Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. in a game that will be televised on NexStar affiliates (check local listings) and simulcast on ESPN+ (paid subscription required). Each game WCU plays in Asheville will also be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network with live audio available online at Fans can also listen to the game locally in Sylva on 105.7 FM / 540 AM WRGC “The River” as well as in Marion, N.C., on 103.9 FM / 1250 AM WBRM “Bigfoot Country.” Again this year, the Catamount Club's Catamount Central for the duration of the tournament is Mellow Mushroom (50 Broadway St., Asheville, NC 28801). Pregame socials scheduled for two hours ahead of every game the Catamounts play in Asheville will be held at the downtown pizzeria location. Saturday's first gathering is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.For tickets to the 2024 Ingles SoCon Basketball Championship, contact the Catamount Athletics ticket office at (828) 227-2401 or purchase online at Keep track of everything related to Catamount men's basketball and WCU Athletics through our social media outlets on Facebook (, Instagram (@catamountmbb @wcu_catamounts), and Twitter (@CatamountMBB, @catamounts).


WCU’s All-time Coaches SoCon Player of the Year:

Frankie King – 1994-95

Anquell McCollum – 1995-96

Bobby Phillips – 1997-98


WCU’s All-time Malcolm U. Pitt Award – Media Player of the Year:

Frankie King – 1993-94

Frankie King – 1994-95

Anquell McCollum – 1995-96


2023-24 Southern Conference Postseason Awards


Malcolm U. Pitt Player of the Year: Vonterius Woolbright, Sr., G, Western CarolinaNewcomer of the Year: Rylan Jones, Gr., G, Samford

Sixth Man of the Year: Jan Zidek, Gr., F, Chattanooga

Defensive Player of the Year: Kobe Langley, Gr., G, UNCGAnton Foy Coach of the Year: Bucky McMillan, Samford All-SoCon First TeamJP Pegues, Jr., G, FurmanMikeal Brown-Jones, Sr., F, UNCGAchor Achor, Jr., F, Samford

Trey Bonham, Sr., G, ChattanoogaVonterius Woolbright, Sr., G, Western Carolina All-SoCon Second teamMarcus Foster, Sr., G, Furman

Jalyn McCreary, Sr., F, MercerKeyshaun Langley, Gr., G, UNCG

Honor Huff, So., G, ChattanoogaCorey Tripp, Jr., G, Wofford All-SoCon Third teamJaden Seymour, Jr., F/C, ETSUKobe Langley, Gr., G, UNCG

Rylan Jones, Gr., G, SamfordA.J. Staton-McCray, Jr., G, SamfordSam Alexis, So., F/C, Chattanooga SoCon All-Defensive teamQuentin Millora-Brown, Gr., F, The CitadelJadyn Parker, Jr., F, ETSUKobe Langley, Gr., G, UNCGA.J. Staton-McCray, Jr., G, SamfordSam Alexis, So., F/C, Chattanooga

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