The Saddleback men's basketball program was back in the news this week with the report that former Gaucho T.J. Shorts has been honored by the Big West Conference. Shorts was named both the Big West Conference Player-of-the-Year and Newcomer-of-the-Year after leading UC Davis to a Big West regular season title.
Shorts was a two-time Orange Empire Conference First Team selection during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, winning the OEC Most Valuable Player Award in 2015-16. The Tustin High School graduate led Saddleback to a 55-7 record in his two seasons with the Gauchos and a runner-up finish at the 2016 state tournament.
Shorts is the first Big West player to ever win both awards in one season. He scored more than 20 points in 10 games for the Aggies, leading the conference in steals (2.0 spg) while finishing second in assists (4.3 apg), fifth in field goal percentage (.538) and seventh in scoring (15.2). Shorts was instrumental down the stretch for UC Davis, averaging 21 points-per-game over the final eight games, including two, game-winning baskets in key wins for the Aggies. On two separate occasions, Shorts was selected as the Big West Conference Player-of the-Week.
Shorts and his UC Davis (21-9, 12-4) teammates will start the Big West Conference Tournament on Thursday at 12:00 PM in Anaheim at the Honda Center when they play UC Riverside (9-21, 4-12) in the quarterfinal round. UC Davis is currently rated No. 95 in the latest Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), meaning they will likely have to win the Big West Conference Tournament in order to advance to the NCAA Tournament.