Utsunomiya Brex guard Kai Toews was named the Rookie of the Year for the 2020-21 season, the B. League revealed during its annual award show on Thursday.
After joining the Eastern Conference club during last season, the 22-year-old had his first full year in the league, competing in all 60 contests during regular season and playing in seven playoff games.
Toews averaged 6.0 points and 2.6 assists in 16.4 minutes per game for the Brex, who fell to the Chiba Jets Funabashi in the decisive third game of the B. League Finals on Tuesday.
The 188-cm point guard, who is the son of BT Toews, head coach of the Women’s Japan Basketball League’s Fujitsu Red Wave, joined the University of North Carolina Wilmington from the 2018-19 campaign. He left the Seahawks in December 2019 to pursue a career in the B. League.
“Winning the Rookie of the Year was one of the goals I’d set going into the season, but once the season started, there were so many great players across the league and towards the end of the season I thought it would be too tough to win it,” Toews said during an online news conference after the event. “So I’m happy that I’ve accomplished my goal.”
Toews has a long career ahead of him and hopes the rookie honor will not be the last accolade he receives.
“I know I’ve got a long way to become a player of that level, but hopefully I can win an MVP one day,” he said.
Elsewhere, J.R. Sakuragi, who played for the SeaHorses Mikawa for 19 seasons before retiring after the 2019-20 season, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his exceptional career.
The UCLA alum led the SeaHorses to six titles during the team’s time in the Japan Basketball League and National Basketball League and was named MVP in three consecutive seasons from the 2010-11 season.
“It’s extremely rare to play with the same team for 19 years,” said Sakuragi, who became a Japanese citizen in 2007 and played for the Japan men’s national team. “Only Kobe Bryant has done it 20 years with the (Los Angeles) Lakers. So I’m very thankful for my time with the Mikawa SeaHorses.”
The 44-year-old currently serves as a technical adviser for the WJBL’s Aisin Wings and the Koshigaya Alphas of the B. League second-division.
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