Xavier Cooks and Winthrop are going dancing.
Winthrop was the best team in the Big South Conference this season. They have capitalised by winning the conference tournament over Campbell, and in doing so, earned an automatic bid to the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
Winthrop and Xavier Cooks 2017 Big South Tournament Champions | Supplied by Winthrop Athletics
The Eagles were superbly led by 6'8 Australian forward Xavier Cooks, who backed up his selection to the All-Conference First Team by being named to the All-Tournament Team.
Behind the stellar play of the Eagles tandem of Cooks and Keon Johnson, Winthrop progressed to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010. Cooks would deliver 17 point (5-of-7 FG) and 14 rebound double-double with a further 5 assists and 3 steals. Big South Conference Player of the Year and Tournament MVP, Johnson would score a team-high 26 points.
The Eagles were quick out of the blocks, opening up a 12-2 lead. While Campbell would fight their way back into the contest, the Eagles would pull away for a comfortable 76-59 win.
Across their three tournament games, Cooks delivered when it mattered the most. He posted a double-double in each game in averaging an impressive 19.7 points and 13.0 rebounds per game, which included wins against Charleston Southern and Gardner-Webb.
Cooks has also enjoyed a career-year with the Eagles, averaging an impressive 16.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. He finished sixth in the league in scoring, first in blocked shots per game and second in rebounding. Over the course of the last 20 games, Cooks averaged a double-double and posted a total of 10 of those games this season.
The junior forward will now be heading to his first NCAA Tournament and a chance to experience March Madness.