ULM freshman point guard Gara Beth Self has been named the 2019-20 Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year, as announced by the conference office Monday afternoon.
The award is voted on by the conference’s head coaches and selected media panel.
Self is ULM’s first Sun Belt Freshman of the Year, and the first Sun Belt Conference specialty award winner for ULM women’s basketball since joining the conference in 2006-07. She is the first conference Freshman/Newcomer of the Year for ULM since Jab Johnson was the Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year in 1988.
“GB had a special year,” ULM head coach Brooks Donald Williams said. “What an honor in a very tough league.”
Self took over the starting point guard role in the final non-conference game of the season against Mississippi Valley State on Dec. 29 following an injury to senior Lauren Fitch. Self started all 18 Sun Belt Conference games at point guard. She averaged 12.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game inside conference play.
Overall on the season, Self played in all 29 games, starting 24, while averaging 9.9 points, 1.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.0 steals per game.
“First and foremost, she is a competitor and a winner,” Williams said. “It is in her blood. She was asked to do a lot for us and grow up quickly at this level in all aspects of her game. She not only stepped up but she embraced it and thrived in her role.”
Self scored in double figures in 15 games, with 12 of those games coming inside of Sun Belt Conference play. She scored 10 or more points in eight consecutive games from Jan. 8 to Feb. 5. Self tallied a season-high 28 points on 5-of-113-point shooting at then conference co-leader Coastal Carolina on Feb. 27. Her best all-around performance may have been in the team’s only conference win at Texas State on Jan. 16, scoring 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting and 4-of-5 3-point shooting with four rebounds and five assists. She closed the season with three double-figure games in her last four outings, including 18 points against Texas State on Thursday and 19 points vs. UT Arlington on Saturday.
Self had a season-high five assists three times, tracked down a season-best six rebounds on Thursday vs. Texas State and had a season-high five steals at Coastal Carolina on Feb. 27.
“We are very proud of what she was able to accomplish this year and can’t wait to see what her future holds, individually and for the Warhawk Women’s Basketball program,” Williams said.