Coach Chris Beard named Sun Belt Coach of the Year. Hagins, Woods, and Johnson Jr All Conference

In an announcement that should shock absolutely no one if you have followed the Sun Belt Conference this year, Chris Beard has been voted the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year.

This is coach Beard’s first year as a Division I head coach after after leading Little Rock to new program records for overall wins (27), Sun Belt Conference wins (17) and true road wins (12) in a season. Little Rock finished the regular season with the best win percentage (.871) and most victories (27) in the nation, while its 12 true road wins were tied for second-most nationally.

Beard could additionally pick up a few other coach of year awards or nominations, which will start rolling in around Final Four time. Beard should easily be a candidate for the Hugh Durham best mid-major Coach Award.


Also picking up conference honors are Josh Hagins, Marcus Johnson Jr. and Roger Woods. Each earned All-Sun Belt Conference honors, the league office announced on Tuesday.

Hagins was named First Team All-SBC, while Johnson and Woods were named to the Second and Third Teams, respectively.

More info from the Trojans:

Beard becomes the third Little Rock coach to earn SBC Coach of the Year honors. Hagins, Johnson and Woods become the first trio of Little Rock players to be named All-Sun Belt in the same season.

Beard, who was hired last April after two seasons at Angelo State, earns Coach of the Year honors Little Rock’s scoring defense ranks third in the country, while its defensive field goal percentage, scoring margin and turnover margin all rank in the top-20 nationally.

Beard began his Division I coaching career with 10 straight wins to open the 2015-16 season, including victories at San Diego State, Tulsa and DePaul. The Trojans’ 10-0 start to the season established new program and conference records. The 10-game win streak matched a program record as Little Rock last won 10 straight games in the 1986-87 season.

A native of Marietta, Ga., Beard led the Trojans to their first undefeated home campaign since the 1981-82 season. The Trojans have won an arena-record 16 straight games at the Jack Stephens Center dating back to last year.

The 14-win improvement from last season’s 13-18 mark ties a Sun Belt Conference record.

Beard is just the second first-year Division I head coach to win the Sun Belt’s Coach of the Year honor, and first since 1999.

Hagins garners All-Sun Belt accolades for the second straight season after being named Third Team All-SBC in 2014-15. He finished the regular season averaging 13.0 points, 4.7 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 45.2 percent from the floor, 36.9 percent from 3 and 84.1 percent from the foul line. The 6-1 guard will finish his career inside the top-10 on Little Rock’s all-time lists for points, assists, steals, made field goals, made 3-pointers, games played and minutes played.

Hagins is Little Rock’s first First Team All-Sun Belt pick since D’Andre Williams in 2011-12.

Johnson finished the regular season averaging 12.6 points while shooting 46.3 percent from 3-point range to lead the Sun Belt. His 47.5 percent shooting mark from the floor was the best among the league’s perimeter players. The Hill College transfer scored in double figures 17 times on the season, including nine games of 15-plus.

He scored 30 points in just 22 minutes of work in Little Rock’s second game of the season vs. Centenary on Nov. 18. He made seven 3-pointers in the win, a total he would match in Little Rock’s win over Georgia Southern on Jan. 28.

Woods earns All-Sun Belt honors for the first time. He averaged 9.7 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 54.6 percent from the floor and 37.0 percent from 3. The 6-5 senior saw his numbers jump to 11.3 points on 57.8 percent shooting in Sun Belt games. On senior night vs. Arkansas State, Woods scored a career-high 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting from the floor and a 2-of-3 effort from 3-point range.

Woods has scored in double figures 17 times on the year, including 13 league games. He was a preseason All-Sun Belt selection after averaging 11.9 points and 6.5 rebounds as a junior.

First Team All-Conference
Tookie Brown (Georgia Southern, Freshman, G)
Josh Hagins (Little Rock, Senior, G)
Shawn Long (Louisiana, Senior, F)
Majok Deng (ULM, Senior, F)
Erick Neal (UT Arlington, Sophomore, G)

Second Team All-Conference
Frank Eaves (Appalachian State, Senior, G)
Anthony Livingston (Arkansas State, Junior, F)
Marcus Johnson Jr. (Little Rock, Junior, G)
Justin Roberson (ULM, Senior, G)
Wesley Person (Troy, Sophomore, G)

Third Team All-Conference
Devin Carter (Arkansas State, Junior, G)
Mike Hughes (Georgia Southern, Sophomore, G)
Roger Woods (Little Rock, Senior, F)
Ken Williams (South Alabama, Junior, G)
Emani Gant (Texas State, Senior, F)

Student-Athlete of the Year
Shawn Long (Louisiana, Sr., F/C, General Studies)

Defensive Student-Athlete of the Year
Justin Roberson (ULM, Senior, G)

Freshman of the Year
Tookie Brown (Georgia Southern, Freshman, G)

Coach of the Year
Chris Beard, Little Rock


Coach Chris Beard named Sun Belt Coach of the Year. Hagins, Woods, and Johnson Jr All Conference