KZ Okpala honored with Hank Luisetti MVP Award at Stanford men’s basketball banquet

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By: Ana Kieu

KZ Okpala captured the Hank Luisetti Most Valuable Player Award, as the Stanford Cardinal men’s basketball team celebrated the 2018-19 season at its awards banquet at Bing Concert Hall Monday.

The Cardinal highlighted the accomplishments of Josh Sharma and recognized the overall achievements of a roster that featured 11 of 15 student-athletes in their first or second year. Anne & Tony Joseph Director of Men’s Basketball Jerod Haase thanked both Sharma and senior manager Ryan Cole for their outstanding efforts throughout their respective Cardinal careers. Haase also expressed his enthusiasm for a promising future with an experienced roster back on The Farm for 2019-20.

Okpala, a First Team All-Pac-12 selection, First Team USBWA All-District pick and a Second Team NABC All-District selection this past season, took home the Hank Luisetti MVP Award. He averaged a team-best 16.8 PPG to go along with 5.7 RPG and a SPG. He finished fifth in the Pac-12 in scoring with the second-most 20-point games (15) in the conference. He also ranked 16th in the conference in rebounding and 12th in defensive rebounding (4.5 DRPG). During the Pac-12 regular season, he finished fifth in the conference in scoring (17.5 PPG).

Sharma and Oscar da Silva were each the recipient of the Howie Dallmar Coach’s Award.

Sharma was recognized following a standout senior season on The Farm. He was a candidate for the Pac-12’s Most Improved Player Award and established a school record for field goal percentage in a season. His mark of .673 was not only a program record, it was the eighth-best field goal percentage in a season in Pac-12 history. He completed his standout career eighth on Stanford’s field goal percentage list, shooting .563 for his career. He was an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention selection, after finishing the year as the conference’s field goal percentage leader and ranking in the top-10 in the league in offensive rebounds (3rd, 2.6 ORPG), blocks (7th, 1.4 BPG) and rebounds (9th, 7.1 RPG). He averaged 11.3 PPG and 8.2 RPG during Pac-12 play, posting double-doubles in five of his final seven games. He averaged 14.7 PPG and 11.1 RPG over those final seven contests. He was selected to play in the NABC College All-Star Game at the Final Four, which featured the top seniors in the nation.

da Silva was recognized for the second consecutive season. He was the lone Cardinal to start all 31 games. He averaged 9.5 PPG and 6.0 RPG. He averaged 28.3 MPG and finished second on the team in blocks with 40 on the season. He finished the season ranked eighth in the Pac-12 in blocks (1.3 BPG) and 13th in rebounding. He registered four 20-point games on the year, posting a career-best 23 points against both San Jose State and Oregon State. He recorded three double-doubles for the season.

Rodney Herenton was the recipient of the Peter Sauer Most Inspirational Award. Named in honor of the late Peter Sauer, who was the inspirational leader and captain of the 1998 Final Four Team, the award recognizes an individual who embodies the same qualities as Sauer did — enthusiasm, leadership and courage, which serves as an inspiration to the team. He has been a constant voice of encouragement and inspiration as a true representative of the Invested, Tough and Selfless pillars. He played in six games, highlighted by four points in four minutes of action in the win over Washington State in February. He has represented the program globally, earning a selection to the prestigious Rubenstein-Bing Student-Athlete Civic Engagement Program. He traveled to India, where he served as a mentor and teacher for English, math and athletics to children. Commanding the utmost respect of his teammates, he has exemplified the exceptional character and charisma that helps define the Peter Sauer Most Inspirational Award.

Bryce Wills captured the Roy Young Toughness Award, recognizing the individual who was a leader in floor burns for the season. Originally created at Kansas in honor of Haase, the floor burns stat was adopted by Stanford when Haase was hired as head coach. Floor burns recognizes individuals for diving for loose balls, taking charges and making the extra effort to help their team win. He collected 48 floor burns and was recognized for giving the extra effort on both ends of the floor, highlighted by scoring performances down the stretch to win games and blocks on the defensive end to help seal victories. He became a regular starter as a freshman. He averaged 7.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG and 2.2 APG from the guard spot, scoring in double figures in seven Pac-12 games. He also recorded multiple steals in five games, including four in the win over Middle Tennessee in the Battle 4 Atlantis. He scored four of his 11 points in the final 14 seconds, including the go-ahead basket in the 79-76 come-from-behind win over USC in February.

The banquet concluded with speeches by Sharma and Cole, who both shared their gratitude to everyone involved in the team.

KZ Okpala was a First-Team All-District selection by the USBWA

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By: Ana Kieu

Stanford Cardinal forward KZ Okpala was a First Team All-District selection by the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA), based on voting from its national membership of more than 900 individuals.

Okpala, who was also a First Team All-Pac-12 pick, led Stanford in scoring at 16.8 PPG in his second year on The Farm. He ranks fifth in the Pac-12 in scoring with the second-most 20-point games (15) in the conference. He also ranks 17th in the conference in rebounding (5.7 RPG), and 12th in defensive rebounding (4.5 DRPG). During the Pac-12 regular season, he finished fifth in the conference in scoring (17.5 PPG).

Okpala, a semifinalist for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award, scored a career-high 30 points in the win at California in February. He recorded four consecutive 20-point games for the first time in his career in the middle of the conference season, achieving the mark against Arizona (29), Arizona State (21), Washington (22) and Utah (22). He arned Pac-12 Player of the Week honors in November, after averaging 29.0 ppg in victories over Seattle and UNC Wilmington. He finished his sophomore season on The Farm with a pair of double-doubles, posting 22 points and 10 rebounds in the Pac-12 opener against UCLA and 20 points and 10 rebounds in the season opener against Seattle.

The USBWA All-District IX Team recognized 11 standouts from Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura was the District IX Player of the Year.

Stanford, with 11 of 15 players in their first or second year, completed the season 15-16 overall and 8-10 in the Pac-12.

Stanford Cardinal podcast with Joey Friedman: Cardinal’s Pickens leads with offensive game against WSU

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On the Stanford Cardinal podcast with Joey:

#1 The Stanford Cardinal (9-8) got a win over Washington State (8-8) at Pullman on Thursday night 79-70.

#2 The Cardinal’s Dorian Pickens led the Cardinal with 28 points and Pickens got a three-pointerat 1:16 left to help the Cardinal in their nine-point win.

#3 KZ Okpala scored 21 points and Daejon Davis scored 6-7 field goals and 15 points.

#4 WSU’s Malachi Flynn led the Cougars with 24 points and had seven three-pointers.

#5 The Cardinal play at Oregon this Sunday at 5 pm.

Joey Friedman does the Stanford podcast each Friday at


Cal Bears basketball podcast with Michael Duca and Morris Phillips: Bears came close, but Okpala and Cardinal turn it up a notch photo: The Stanford Cardinal and Cal Bears do battle last  Sunday  at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley

On the Cal Bears podcast with Michael and Morris:

#1 Another tough loss for the Cal Bears (5-16) on Sunday afternoon at Haas Pavilion as the Bears lost to the visiting Stanford Cardinal (11-10) 84-81.

#2 The Cardinal’s KZ Okpala led with 30 points and eight rebounds. He was hard to contain for the Bears all afternoon.

#3 Okpala had his 12th game scoring 20 or more points last season. He scored 20 or more points eight times. He’s been a force and had given the Bears fits to contain him.

#4 According to Stanford coach Jerod Haase, Okpala has some more developing to go. He’s working out just fine and provided the nine of the last 19 points of the game that really put a crimp in Cal’s game.

#5 The Bears are in Oregon (13-9) for Wednesday, Feb. 6th. Morris sets up that game.

Morris and Michael do the Cal Bears podcasts each week at

Stanford squeezes past Long Beach State 93-86 photo: Stanford Cardinal Josh Sharma goes up for the throwdown against the Long Beach Matadors at Maples Pavilion on Saturday night

by Joey Friedman

PALO ALTO — Coming off a loss to an outstanding San Francisco Dons team on the road, Stanford (now 7-5 on the season) returned to Maples Pavilion for their final game of the 2018 calendar year and their final game of the non-conference schedule against Long Beach State (now 5-10 on the season). Star freshman guard Cormac Ryan remained out for the third consecutive game with an ankle injury, giving freshman Jaiden Delaire his first career start in the win. Stanford was successful in avenging last year’s road loss to the Long Beach State 49ers by the score of 93-86.

The game remained tight throughout the first half as copious turnover and fouls committed by both teams stunted any runs. The Cardinal and The Beach exchanged small advantages with Josh Sharma and KZ Okpala leading the team with 9 and 8 points in the half, respectively. Sharma also collected 10 rebounds in the first half, setting a career record. Stanford would take a 37-36 lead to halftime.

Long Beach State’s lead with the score 45-43 was their last of the night as Stanford caught fire and, on the back of a pair of Oscar da Silva 3-pointers, went on a 13-1 run, which put the score at 56-46 with less than 14 minutes left in the game.

The Beach didn’t go quietly, however. Stanford’s free throw shooting down the stretch allowed for the 49ers to crawl back to within two points with under a minute to go. Bryan Alberts, who finished with 22 points (6-13 from beyond the arc), nailed a pair of 3s while Temidayo Yussuf, who finished with 13 points (5-7 from the field), added 6 points of his own in the closing minutes to narrow the gap. Towards the end of the game, Stanford shot 5-19 from the charity stripe.

Down by 3 and with a chance to tie the game with under 10 seconds left in the game, Long Beach State head coach Don Monson tried to call a timeout to presumably set up a play for his team on offense but was unsuccessful at getting the referees’ attention. Subsequently, Long Beach State threw up a poor, air-balled shot on their final possession. Monson was understandably irate with the referees which drew a pair of technical fouls and an ejection from the court. Stanford padded their lead in the closing seconds with the fouls shots.

Josh Sharma finished the game for the Cardinal with his first career double-double. He set career-highs in both points and rebounds, blowing his previous career highs out of the water. He finished with 23 points and 18 rebounds.

Daejon Davis, who had 17 points and 5 assists for the Cardinal, left the game with an apparent ankle injury with about seven minutes left in the game. Head coach Jerod Hasse said he does not know the extent of the injury.

KZ Okpala and Jaiden Delaire each had 20 points and 10 points, respectively, in the win.

What’s next?
Stanford will open Pac-12 Conference play with the LA schools as the Card head south for games at UCLA on January 3rd and at USC on January 6th.

Long Beach State opens Big West Conference play at home against UC Davis after they face Bethesda at home on January 5th.

Stanford Cardinal basketball podcast with Joey Friedman: After loss to Kansas, Stanford looks to recover against Washington Eastern photo

On the Stanford basketball podcast with Joey:

#1 Last Saturday, going to Kansas (8-0), you had to get that feeling the Stanford Cardinal (4-4) had their work cut out for them.

#2 The Jayhawks’ LaGerald Vick, one of the big threats, hit a three-pointer with just a second left in the game, Vick had eight of 27 points for the Hawks to lead them to a 90-84 win and the Hawks kept their perfect record in tact.

#3 For the Cardinal, KZ Okpala had 22 points and eight rebounds, Daejon Davis had 19 points and eight boards and Isaac White had 15 points and five threes.

#4 While the Jayhawks are still undefeated, they did make mistakes during their win over the Cardinal and just got away with a six-point win.

#5 The Cardinal have the home floor Saturday night against the Eastern Washington Eagles (1-7). The Eagles will be coming off a game against the USF Dons on Thursday night. The Cardinal could very well have this game in hand.

Join Joey each Friday for the Cardinal podcasts at

Stanford Cardinal men’s basketball takes down WSU 86-84; Davis’ free throws break tie with 10 seconds remaining

Photo credit: @StanfordMBB

By Alexandra Evans

PALO ALTO–The Stanford Cardinal Men’s Basketball team (15-13) received a visit from the Washington State Cougars (11-16) at Maples Pavilion on Saturday, which was also Senior Day for the Cardinal.

Cougars’ Drick Bernstine made the first basket of the game, the start of the team’s lead over the Cardinal. It was not until the 7:35 mark that the Cardinal caught the lead.

Unlike Thursday’s match against the Washington Huskies, however, the Cardinal’s lead never made it to the double digits. The highest score by which they exceeded the Cougars was seven, as they kept managing to inch their way close to a tie, until the end of the period when Michael Humphrey, one of the seniors who was honored before the match (along with Dorian Pickens), made a buzzer-beating three-pointer for the Cardinal. The score was 49-40 at halftime

Freshman KZ Okpala, who made the first basket for his team, had the most points for the Cardinal after the opening period with 11. Bernstine exceeded the Cougars with 12 points.

When the second period began, Malachi Flynn made a three-pointer for the Cougars, followed by a layup from Kwinton Hinson. Shortly after, Hinson was fouled and Okpala made both free throws, making the score 51-45. Humphrey then got a layup directly after, and then made a dunk (assisted by Daejon Davis) to give the Cardinal their first double digit lead of the game less than four minutes in. Reid Travis brought the Cardinal’s lead to 12 with a layup at the five-minute mark.

The Cardinal managed to keep their lead in the double digits after Travis blocked a shot from Milan Acquaah, and again Oscar da Silva made a three-pointer at the eight-minute mark. Dorian Pickens then made two free throws to give the Cardinal a 14-point lead.

The Cougars cut their trail to single digits after Robert Franks got a three-pointer. The Cardinal’s lead remained in the single digits (even dropping to a two-point difference with a minute remaining), and then the score was tied 84-84 after Franks got on a breakaway and dunked for the Cougars with 30 seconds left in the game.

Two free throws from Davis put the Cardinal ahead by two points with 10 seconds on the clock, and they took home an 86-84 win.

Okpala and Travis finished the game with 20 points to lead the Cardinal. Franks led the Cougars with 19 points.

The Stanford Cardinal will head to the desert on Thursday, March 1 to take on the Arizona Wildcats.