A SUNY Orange men’s basketball player from Newburgh has been named the NJCAA Division II National Player of the Year.
Romero Aquino is a two-time All-American and has become the first SUNY Orange men’s basketball player ever to be named as the nation’s top performer. Following a record-setting season of personal and team successes, Aquino earned his sport’s highest honor yesterday when he was named the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Men’s Basketball Player of the Year.
Aquino averaged a double-double for the season, scoring 23.8 points per game and grabbing 10.2 rebounds per contest. He ranked among the best in the nation statistically in points per game (fourth at 23.8 ppg.), rebounds per game (15th at 10.2 rpg.), defensive rebounds (fifth at 240) and total rebounds (sixth at 336). His 784 points (in 33 games played) were the most scored by any men’s player, regardless of division, within the NJCAA during the 2022-23 season.
Additionally, he averaged 3.3 assists per game, shot 57.7 percent from the field, converted 76.4 percent of his free throws and shot 24.6 percent from three-point range.
Earlier in the week, Aquino was named to the All-American first team after earning second-team accolades a year ago as a freshman. He was also named the NJCAA Region 15 Player of the Year, earned a spot on the all-region first team and was the NJCAA Week 8 DII Men’s Basketball Player of the Week.
“Romeo is an outstanding player on both ends of the floor. He was a major reason for our team’s success this season and exemplifies what a student athlete is on and off the court. He was our statistical leader but also our emotional leader. Plain and simple, Romeo is a winner,” said SUNY Orange Colts Head Coach Tom Rickard. “He led the team to a school record 31 wins this season and a 50-5 record over the last two seasons as well as a Final Four appearance. He makes his teammates better and is truly happy for his teammates when they succeed. I cannot wait to see what the future holds. We are so proud of him and I’m sure his parents are as well because they raised a special young man.”
In his sophomore campaign, Aquino led the Colts to a 31-3 record and the program’s first-ever appearance in the NJCAA Final Four. The Colts entered the tournament seeded sixth before defeating Scottsdale 85-63 and Henry Ford 102-87 to reach the semifinals. With a berth in the title game on the line, eventual champ Milwaukee Area Tech dispatched the Colts 79-76. SUNY Orange then fell in the third place game to host Danville Area 74-65.
The 31 wins are a single-season record and only two teams in the nation (Milwaukee Area Tech and Davidson-Davie) had more wins than the Colts. Additionally, SUNY Orange captured conference and district championships and possessed one of the nation’s most potent scoring offenses (averaging 97.6 ppg. to rank second in the country). The Colts were the nation’s best shooting team, hitting 52.4 percent of their field goal attempts, and ranked second in the country in rebounding (49.1 rpg.). They stifled their opponents’ shooting on the defensive end, harassing teams into shooting just 37.6 percent from the field (third best in nation).