I don't think I need to waste a lot of your time as I continue Mid-Major Madness' examination of the top 10 players in each of the conferences we cover.
If I wrote this piece about the Missouri Valley Conference and put anybody other than Doug McDermott (already a strong candidate for Player of the Year nationally, not just in his own conference) in the top spot, I clearly would be doing it for shock value and page views.
Pretty sure we have a good enough readership without such tactics, so perhaps let's instead worry about who else shows up along the way to number one? I'll keep it simple with one player per team, since there happen to be ten in our lovely little conference.
10. Dantiel Daniels, Southern Illinois - 8.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.6 bpg
The Salukis were bad last season - 23 losses bad. Daniels was the best of a down lot, including being the best blocker in the conference. It's hard to say if the Salukis will be any better this season, but Daniels should continue to grow and at the very least be a bright spot in a possibly low season.
9. Walt Lemon Jr., Bradley - 12.6 ppg, 1.3 spg
Here we are again in "best-of-a-bad-lot" territory. One could argue that Dyricus Simms-Edwards is perhaps a better choice here to represent the Braves, but I'm writing this ranking and I'm picking Edwards. So nanna nanna boo boo. Edwards with some improvements in consistency could be the better player, but Lemon is probably the better player at the moment.
8. Anthony Downing, Missouri State - 11.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.3 apg
Downing appears here more by default, since the season-ending injury to teammate Jarmar Gulley has made him Missouri State's top returner both in terms of experience and production. He's no slouch, but we'll see if he can take the step up from good player to offensive focal point - including a trip to Costa Rica.
7. Anthony James, Northern Iowa - 12.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.7 apg
James is probably best known nationally for the buzzer-beating three that helped UNI take down Creighton, but there's plenty more to his game than that. He's not an elite talent but he's got the highest combined level of talent and experience on the team, so he's the best bet as a Panther - at least until we see all those freshman play.
6. Ben Simons, Drake - 16.4 ppg, .849 FT%
Ben Simons was part of what could have been a dynamic duo this season for the Bulldogs. Buuuut then the other half of that duo decided that the University of Illinois at Champaign would be a more ideal option, so SImons now anchors Drake's offense alone. Hard to say yet if his game is sturdy enough and/or versatile enough to hold up as the primary option and defensive focus. but hey that's why we play the games.
5. Carl Hall, Wichita State - 8.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.8 bpg
Hall's transition will probably be similar to Simons, but on an even greater scale. Last year he was newcomer of the year on an experienced squad, and he had his role and filled it well. This year, after being granted a sixth year of eligibility, he becomes the senior leadership on a very talented but very young squad. This doesn't necessarily mean that he becomes "The Man," but perhaps it's a possibility? Definitly worth keeping an eye on. Those numbers may not look like much, but you're talking about a guy who put those numbers up in relatively limited minutes - it translates to 15.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg, and 1.4 bpg per 40 minutes. If he can be near that pace this season, he shall definitely move up the list.
3b. Jake Odum, Indiana State - 10.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4.9 apg
Odum spent last season suffering from the hobbling (literally) pain that comes from plantar fasciitis (kind of like a smaller, more Caucasian Antonio Gates), and he still put up the line you see above. If he can stay healthy, and be a little less risque with his ballhandling (3 turnovers per game) he could pull the Sycamores into the conference elite.
3a. Jackie Carmichael, Illinois State - 13.9 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 1.4 bpg
Apparently Jackie was pretty awesome at this little no-name camp called the LeBron James Skills Academy. This would be no shock to his opponents last season who watched him rack up strong numbers all year long, including 15 double doubles. He also has some turnover issues, but nothing that would really threaten his or his team's ability to shine (as long as it doesn't get worse).
2. Colt Ryan, Evansville - 20.5 ppg, 3.3 apg, 1.9 spg
Last season's conference leader in minutes played would have led the conference in scoring - and possibly been in the national spotlight - were it not for Creighton's Doug McDermott. And Evansville's overall record. Ryan filled up the stat sheet and is a versatile player who may lead the Aces to something special this season
1. Doug McDermott, Creighton - 23.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, .486% 3PT
Dougie the Coach's Son was an All-American last season, leading the Jays' all the way to a short tourney run (thanks Roy Williams). As we've said here repeatedly, he's strong national player of the year contender and clearly the best in the MVC.