Bryant’s Alex Francis Named Rookie Of The Year


Senior forward Cecil Gresham garners all-conference second team honors


SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Bryant University freshman forward Alex Francis (Harlem, N.Y.) was rewarded for one of the most impressive rookie seasons in school history, becoming the men's basketball program's first-ever Northeast Conference Rookie of the Year selection, as chosen by the league's head coaches.

Francis, who also garnered a spot on the NEC All-Rookie Team, was joined on the list of postseason accolades by fifth-year senior forward Cecil Gresham (Bloomfield, Conn.), who was named to the all-conference second team for a stellar end to a spectacular Bryant career.

It didn't take long for Francis to develop into a dominant interior force for the 2010-11 Bulldogs, who improved by eight games in the win column in its second year as a member of the NEC. Armed with a diverse offensive repertoire, the 6-foot-6 forward seemed unfazed by the adjustment to the collegiate game. Whether it was breaking defenders down in the halfcourt, finishing on the break or crashing the boards, Francis looked like anything but a rookie.

The first Bryant player to win a weekly honor in men's basketball since the school joined the Northeast Conference in 2008-09, Francis was a six-time Choice Hotels NEC Rookie of the Week winner at season's end. He is the lone freshman in the conference to lead his team in point production and finished the regular season as the top rookie scorer on the circuit, averaging 14.8 points per game. Francis currently ranks ninth in the league in scoring, fourth in rebounding (8.0 rpg) and double-doubles (eight), and eighth in field goal percentage (.507).

Ending his year with a flourish, the Harlem, N.Y. product erupted for a career-high 43 points against regular-season champion Long Island on the road February 24, which set an NEC freshman record, a program Division I record and was the highest total by an NEC player in nine years. It marked the most points scored by a freshman in the country this season and his 20 field goals in the game (20-for-27) established a new league standard and is tops in the nation. Francis's six rookie of the week accolades tie him for fourth on the league's all-time list.

Francis ended his rookie campaign leading the team in scoring average, total points, rebounding average, total rebounds, shooting percentage, field goals made and blocks. In the program single-season record books, the frosh ranks 12th in total points, seventh in field goals made, fifth in rebounding average and 10th in total rebounds. This is the second-straight season the Bulldogs have had an NEC All-Rookie Team selection.

Gresham caps off one of the most prolific careers in Bryant men's basketball history with a second-team all-conference selection in 2010-11, and the 1,000-point scorer is one of just three seniors among the league's 10 all-conference honorees.

Primed for a big year in 2009-10, Gresham played just eight games for the Bulldogs before going down with an injury that cost him the remainder of the season. But the 6-foot-5 forward didn't miss a beat upon his return in 2010-11, and as one of the first stars of the Division I era at Bryant, he posted the best statistical year of his career.

Gresham's versatile offensive skill set is often punctuated by his ability to heat up from long range and carry the Bulldogs for long stretches. He hit at least three 3-pointers 14 different times this season and ended his senior year ranked second in the NEC with 2.6 trifectas per outing and a 42.7 percent success rate from beyond the arc. Gresham is also 11th on the loop in scoring with 14.3 ppg and recorded six 20-point games this season. He closed out his career with 1,386 points (13th all-time at Bryant) and 510 rebounds and ranks fifth all-time with 221 career 3-pointers.