By Harlan Nemerofsky
Ryerson point guard Cassandra “Ceejay” Nofuente was named the OUA East Rookie of the Year on Wednesday – the first time a member of the women’s basketball team has received the award since the conference began recognizing the best first-year player from each division in 1989.
“Our ultimate goal is to win championships, but at the same time I think this individual award is a big step for our program [with] other university coaches recognizing one of our athletes,” said Rams head coach Carly Clarke.
The first-year Chang School student averaged 12.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, leading the Rams (8-12) to a first-round playoff appearance. Finishing second in the OUA with 3.0 steals per game, Nofuente also ended the season with 4.0 assists per game – good enough for twelfth in the entire nation (Canadian Interuniversity Sport).
“She’s one of the best point guards in the league and her celling is really, really high,” said Clarke. “She has a real high basketball IQ, and she was able to control the tempo of our games being our point guard, which is something that allowed us to be successful.”
Teammate Annie Sokoloff also stressed Nofuente’s on-court IQ.
“[It’s] phenomenal – just by the way she sees the floor, she’s made us a [much] better team,” said Sokoloff. “She did so much for us – not just points, but assists, and making us better on both sides of the court.”
Nofuente said she was humbled at receiving the honour, and attributed much of the success to her teammates’ trust in her.
“It feels great to be the first Ryerson women’s basketball player to get it,” said Nofuente. “That’s not only an individual accomplishment for myself, but for the school. I think that people were able to look up to me on the team and I was able to be a leader on the court by proving what I could do.”
Nofuente, who appeared in all 21 games, was also named to the OUA second-team and as a member of the East’s all-rookie team.
“Over my time at Ryerson, I hope I can bring my team to the level where Jahmal [Jones] brought his,” said Nofuente.