Athlete of the Month: Leroy stayed hot all monthBy ALEX HALL
New Hampshire Union Leader
February 27. 2018 11:57PM
When Jaylen Leroy makes a string of baskets, he gets into a zone that helps him perform better in every aspect of his game.
The sophomore guard from Manchester spent most of last month in that zone, averaging 25 points per game over eight contests for the Plymouth State University men’s basketball team.
For his monthlong scoring outburst, Leroy was chosen as the January Apple Therapy Services/Bedford Ambulatory Surgical Center/Express MED Athlete of the Month by the New Hampshire Union Leader Board of Judges.
“Once I get a rhythm going, I just get a burst of energy and feel like I’m in that zone,” Leroy said. “Once I’m in that zone, I’m more involved on D (defense), more intense on D. Once I get in that zone, it affects my all-around game and as a leader on the team, my energy affects the rest of the team as well.”
Leroy began Plymouth State’s January slate with a 34-point outing in the team’s 91-73 victory over Lyndon State on Jan. 3. The Manchester Central graduate followed up with a 35-point game in the Panthers’ 59-58 loss at Western Connecticut State three days later.
Plymouth State lost, 85-76, at Rhode Island College on Jan. 13 despite a mammoth performance from Leroy. The shooting guard scored a career-high 43 points — 26 of which came in the second half — in the setback.
“Throughout the game I remember scoring pretty consistently,” Leroy said. “I remember in the second half, I got in the zone and started making a couple shots. I strung together a couple makes and started flowing from there.”
Plymouth State utilized a guard-oriented style of play this season, which helped Leroy flourish.
“We did a lot of stuff with five guys out on the wing and create for each other and I feel like that’s a big strength of mine,” Leroy said.
Leroy set new single-season career-best marks this year in points per game (23.7) and minutes per game (34.4). While he noticed his scoring ability improve, Leroy also developed his leadership skills this season.
The Panthers featured eight underclassmen — three of which were sophomores — on their 15-man roster this season, which concluded with a Little East Conference first-round loss to Eastern Connecticut State.
Leroy said he and Plymouth State coach Andrew Novick spoke a few times before the season about how Novick expected Leroy to contribute more as a player and leader in his sophomore campaign.
“I’m still not where I want to be as a leader but this season helped me make significant strides in becoming a leader,” Leroy said.
Plymouth State went 2-7 in January en route to a 10-16 overall record and 2-12 mark in LEC play.
While this season was a difficult one for the Panthers, Leroy said the experience helped him and his teammates become closer and will motivate them as they prepare for next year. The campaign also taught Leroy a lot about himself.
“I learned the most about myself this season than any other season,” Leroy said. “A lot of (times this) season were really hard on the team but we really just stuck together and kept playing every day.”
Other athletes considered for the January honor were Plymouth State men’s hockey player Chris Zuccaro, Syracuse women’s hockey player Brooke Avery, Kennett of Conway boys’ hockey player Connor Doucet, St. Michael’s College swimmer Connor Hopkins, St. Anselm College men’s basketball player Cody Ball and St. Joseph’s College of Maine women’s basketball player Emily Benway.
Zuccaro, a senior forward from Hudson, recorded 10 points (four goals, six assists) over seven games for the Panthers last month. Avery, a redshirt junior forward from Concord, tallied eight points (four goals, four assists) over a 4-5 January campaign for the Orange. Doucet, a senior forward, registered 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) over six games for Kennett last month.
Hopkins, a sophomore from Windham, won 13 events over the Purple Knights’ five January meets.
Ball, a junior guard from Londonderry, averaged 14.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game over a 7-2 January campaign for St. Anselm. Benway, a junior forward from Rochester, averaged 12.9 points and 7.4 rebounds over a 9-0 month for St. Joseph’s.
To submit a nomination for future Athlete of the Month consideration, email the Union Leader Sports Department at firstname.lastname@example.org and enter “Athlete of the Month” in the subject line.
Athlete of the Month recipients are honored at the annual Leaders: A Celebration of Sports Champions event held in February.