In recognition of his outstanding efforts on the court during his senior season, Blake Justice earned First Team All-Gulf South Conference honors, as announced by the GSC on Monday.
The annual poll is voted on by coaches throughout the GSC and produced recognition for Justice, who led the Blazers on offense this season and ranked eighth in the league with an average of 15.6 points per game.
“If you think about it, there are so many teams in our conference and so many great players, this is a difficult honor to achieve,” said Head Coach Mike Helfer on Monday morning. “It shows a lot of respect for what we’ve done this season, and it shows a lot of respect for not only what Blake has done this year, but also what he has done during his three years at VSU.”
On the heels of a regular season in which Justice became just the 22nd player in VSU basketball to eclipse the 1,000 point plateau, Justice joined four other first team honorees on a list that included Delta State’s Devin Schmidt, who also was named the GSC Player of the Year in the release. In addition, Shorter’s Phil Taylor, Union’s Marterrace Brock, and Alabama Huntsville’s Seab Webster all made the first team cut.
Justice finished the regular season 146-of-327 from the field for a 44.6 shooting percentage and shot 38.9 percent from three point range after connecting 65 times in 167 attempts. He topped the Blazers with 32 total steals and ranked second on the team with 66 assists. One of his top performances against a conference opponent this season came on Jan. 21, when he hit 10-of-14 shots and 6-of-8 from the three point line en route to a 26 point performance against Alabama-Huntsville, the league’s top ranked team. His efforts this season played a huge role in Valdosta State’s return to postseason play this year.
“This is an award that is not only an individual award but also a team award,” said Helfer. “I think that one great thing about this team this year is that none of these guys care who gets the credit. In this instance, I’m sure Blake would probably tell you that he feels that way about this honor and that it’s about the team as much as it is about his individual accomplishments.”
As the first Blazer basketball player to earn First Team All-GSC honors since 2010, the Peebles, Ohio native has established himself as a quality student-athlete both on and off the court, and recently completed his undergraduate degree at Valdosta State. His personality is one that has resonated with individuals throughout the entire community during his impressive three year career, and Helfer has enjoyed watching him grow into such a memorable player.
“He’s obviously a good basketball player, but as a student and as a person, he has also brought stability off the court where everybody in the community feels like they have a connection with him and know him,” added Coach Helfer. “That’s a difficult thing to do as a college basketball player, to not only have supporters at the university but also throughout the community.”
The Blazers open up the first round of the GSC Tournament as the No. 6 seed and will face No. 3 Union on Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m. EST in Jackson, Tenn. Coverage of the contest can be found at www.vstateblazers.com.