Gerrale Gates Named Southland Freshman of the Year
KATY, Texas – The Southland Conference released its 2019 all-conference teams Monday afternoon and New Orleans forward Gerrale Gates was named Conference Freshman of the Year, while Ezekiel Charles received third-team honors. Gates becomes the third Privateer to be named Conference Freshman of the Year, joining Tory Walker (1998) and Bo McCalebb (2004). It is the third individual award for the Privateers following the 2017 Southland Player of the Year and Coach of the Year accolades for Erik Thomas and Mark Slessinger, respectively.
“We could not be happier for Ezekiel and Gerrale,” said Slessinger. “These recognitions are a testament to their hardwood and their teammates.”
Gates appeared in all 29 games, starting 28, and averaged 8.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. Gates scored a season-high 18 points in just 20 minutes in a win over Incarnate Word (Feb. 20) and pulled down 10 rebounds in a blowout victory versus Southeastern Louisiana (Feb. 28). In the regular season finale, Gates posted 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting and added two steals. His defense continued to improve as the Charlotte native posted multiple blocks in five games, including five in a win against HBU (Jan. 5) and three vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Feb. 16).
“My freshman season has been an amazing experience,” said Gates. “I look forward to the rest of my career here at UNO, beginning with the tournament this week. I am thankful for my coaches and teammates for their constant motivation and continued support. This season wouldn’t be the same without every one of our coaches and teammates.”
Head coach Mark Slessinger was impressed by G in the offseason as one of the three freshmen to join the Privateers this season.
“Gerrale prepared so hard for this opportunity after committing to our program in the fall of his senior season. He hit the ground running and has been consistent all year. His continued development is a great example of his hard work and coachability along with the commitment of his teammates and coaches. I am happy for Gerrale and look forward to seeing his continued growth.”
Charles led the Privateers with 12.9 points and 6.0 rebounds per game before an injury sidelined the Brooklyn native. Zeke was steady, scoring in double figures in 16 games, including four 20+-point outings. The senior poured in a career-high 31 in a victory at Northwestern State (Feb. 6) and finished with his first career double-double vs. HBU (Jan. 5) with 19 points and 11 rebounds. He collected five steals twice, including his second to last game (at NSU). For his career, Charles averaged 9.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and shot 41.5 percent from three-point range, the second-best mark in program history, behind Gabe Corchiani’s 46.4 percent clip.
“A chance is what I was given, my heart is what I gave, a blessing is what I received,” said Charles. “Thank you to the coaches, players, administration and all of New Orleans.”
“The effort that Ezekiel put into his game and physical development was incredible leading into this season,” said Slessinger. “He was a complete player and excelled at every category. His leadership was steady all year.”
The No. 4 Privateers begin their quest for a second tournament championship in three seasons Thursday at 5 p.m. versus the winner of Lamar and HBU at the Merrell Center.
Article Courtney of University of New Orleans Sports Information Department.