Jaaber Wins Geasey Award as Big 5 Player of the Year

PHILADELPHIA - University of Pennsylvania senior guard Ibrahim Jaaber (Elizabeth, N.J./Peddie School) has been named the winner of the Geasey Award, signifying the Philadelphia Big 5 Player of the Year. The announcement was made April 17 by the Philadelphia Big 5 office.

In addition, Jaaber and senior teammate Mark Zoller (Blue Bell, Pa./St. Joseph’s Prep) were named first-team All-Big 5 for the 2006-07 season. Both the Geasey Award and the All-Big 5 team are voted on by members of the Philadelphia media. For Jaaber, it marks the second year he has been first-team All-Big 5, making him just the 13th player in Penn history to be honored more than once (the most recent multiple honoree was Ugonna Onyekwe, in 2002 and 2003). In Jaaber and Zoller, Penn has two first-team All-Big 5 players in the same year for the first time since 1994-95, when Matt Maloney and Jerome Allen were honored.

Joining Jaaber and Zoller on the All-Big Five first team are Villanova’s Curtis Sumpter and Scottie Reynolds, Temple’s Dionte Christmas, and Ahmad Nivins of Saint Joseph’s. The second team includes La Salle’s Darnell Harris, Temple’s Mark Tyndale and Dustin Salisbery, Villanova’s Mike Nardi and Pat Calathes of Saint Joseph’s.

Jaaber and Zoller will be honored, along with the rest of the All-Big 5 team, at the Herb Good Basketball Club Awards Banquet on Monday, April 23, at Colleen’s Restaurant in downtown Philadelphia.

Led by Jaaber and Zoller, Penn went 2-2 in the Big 5 this season, defeating La Salle and Temple and losing to Villanova and Saint Joseph’s. The Quakers won the Ivy League title for the third year in a row, going 13-1, and finished 22-9 overall after a loss to Texas A&M in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Jaaber’s honor is notable for its historical significance. Jaaber is not only just the fifth Penn player in the 51-year history of the Big 5 to win the award, he is the first Quaker to do so since Tony Price way back in 1979. The program’s other Geasey Award winners are Corky Calhoun (1972), Ron Haigler (1974 and 1975), and Keven McDonald (1977).

Jaaber finished the season averaging 15.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, and led the Ivy League in assists per game and steals per game. His 162 assists on the season tied Penn’s single-season record (previously set in 2000-01 by David Klatsky), and his 90 thefts were second on the single-season list behind the 96 he had last year.

For his career, Jaaber is the Ivy League’s all-time steals leader with 303 -- a number that had him tops among all active NCAA Division I players at the end of the season. He also finished with 1,518 points, which ties him for sixth on Penn’s all-time list with Jerome Allen.

Most recently, Jaaber -- a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year and honorable mention AP All-America -- participated in the Portsmouth Invitational, a senior showcase for NBA and foreign scouts. He averaged 6.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in his three games there, with 18 assists and five steals.

Zoller, who grew up attending Big 5 games, had a spectacular senior season for the Quakers; he led the team in scoring (18.2 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg). Those numbers ranked him first and second, respectively, in the Ivy League. In addition, he shot a team-best 55.8 percent from the field, and 78.3 percent from the foul line. He also led Penn with 41 three-point baskets, and had 87 assists and 55 steals. Zoller had 27 double-figure scoring games -- including 12 games with 20 or more points, and two others with 19 points -- and eight double-doubles in 2006-07.

Zoller saved some of his best performances for Big 5 play, where he averaged 24.0 points this season. He had a career-high 33 points in Penn’s loss to Villanova; scored 28 points and had 10 rebounds and four assists in the Quakers’ win over La Salle; followed that up with 19 points and 10 boards in Penn’s win over Temple, including three foul shots with just 1.8 seconds left to push the Quakers ahead of the Owls for the victory; and had 16 points and six rebounds in Penn’s loss to Saint Joseph’s.

Zoller ended his collegiate career with 1,429 points, good for 10th place on Penn’s all-time scoring list. Jaaber and Zoller are the only two players on Penn’s top-10 list to play their entire careers together.