Leao named PSAC Athlete of the Year

Although the basketball season has been over for the Mercyhurst University men’s basketball team for a few weeks, one Laker is still receiving recognition for his incredible performance.

With an average of 18.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game this season alongside scoring double figures in 28 of 29 games, senior forward Luis Leao stacked up an impressive list of accomplishments during the 2012-13 season.

Leao broke plenty of records and received quite the recognition this season.

He broke 1,000 career points on Jan. 12, the ninth most in ‘Hurst history.
Additionally, over the course of his career as a Laker, he averaged 17.4 points per game, the fourth most of any Laker on record. The list doesn’t end there; Leao made 166 foul shots, which set a Mercyhurst University record, and his 73 career blocks puts him at the tenth-most in program history.

For his spectacular 2012-13 season, Leao was rightfully named the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Western Division Athlete of the Year.

This award has never been granted to a Laker in school history, and Leao is the first player born outside of the United States (He was born in Brusque, Brazil) in PSAC history to win the award. Additionally, Leao was named to the PSAC West First Team, Capital One Academic All-American First Team, and 2012-13 Daktronics NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Second Team (another ‘Hurst first).

Winning the title of PSAC Western Division Athlete of the Year is a major accomplishment for Leao, and one he is proud of.

“It is definitely one of the biggest awards I’ve won here at Mercyhurst University, right up there with my Academic All-American First Team award,” Leao said. “It is good to know that my name will be in the Mercyhurst books for history. After all, I gave everything I had during these four years.”

Leao has put a lot of hard work and dedication into his time as a Laker, and handled it like the most important job he could have.

“Basketball was my profession for the past four years, and my paycheck was my scholarship. So, just as in any other regular job, you have to be at the top of your game and prepared for every day that you step into the office,” said Leao.

Leao struggled with injury last season, playing in only 15 of the Laker’s games during the 2011-12 season.

“I took care of my body, and since I’ve battled with injuries all four years basically, I was able to stay healthy and finally play a full season,” said Leao.

Being selected to the PSAC West First Team is not a first for Leao, as he was also a member during the 2010-11 season. Nonetheless, Leao is excited to be selected to such a prestigious team a second time.
Luis Leao was named PSAC Western Division Athlete of the Year on Tuesday, March 5.: Brian Vail photoLuis Leao was named PSAC Western Division Athlete of the Year on Tuesday, March 5.: Brian Vail photo
“It’s a huge honor, especially because there are so many great players in the PSAC that play my position. It has to be such a difficult job to select only six players to the first team,” said Leao. “The fact that four out of the six players selected played my position just proves the competitiveness of it.”

On Jan. 12, 2013, Leao broke 1,000 career points. By the end of the 2012-13 season, he tallied an incredible 1,221 points. Contrary to what one would expect, Leao was not a bit concerned with the career milestone.

“I had no clue I was up there in terms of points. It was never a big deal for me, but once it happened it was very fun,” said Leao. “There is always a certain degree of feeling like you have accomplished something great when you do things like that.”

Although Leao has received a multitude of awards, acknowledgments and selections for his work as a Laker, and even set and broke a few records along the way, he recognizes the importance of his team and coaching staff in helping him to receive such accolades.

“I would say the biggest role of it all was played by my team and coaching staff. They have all trusted me throughout the entire season, and ran the offense through me, and I owe a big thank you to them,” said Leao. “These guys and coaches were very loyal to me, and loyalty is something I have always had in myself as well as being the trait I appreciate most in a person. I believe I had 14 very loyal teammates and three very coaches that I was blessed to work with this past season.”