Back at the beginning of the season, I took a look at the potential top-10 players within the MVC. While the list caused a little beef (largely because I aimed to have the best player from each team, not purely the ten best conference players), the top spot belonging to Doug McDermott was not really debated.
While he did indeed turn out to be the most valuable player in the conference, the rest of the list is most certainly questionable now. Here is what we started with
1. Doug McDermott, Creighton
2. Colt Ryan, Evansville
(T)3. Jake Odum, Indiana State
(T)3. Jackie Carmichael, Illinois State
5. Carl Hall, Wichita State
6. Ben Simons, Drake
7. Anthony James, Northern Iowa
8. Anthony Downing, Missouri State
9. Walt Lemon Jr., Bradley
10. Dantiel Daniels, Southern Illinois
The criticisms with this list were Carl Hall being rated perhaps too high, Anthony James making the list over his teammates, Jake Koch and Seth Tuttle, and someone like Gregory Echenique missing the cut because I was aiming for the best from each team instead of the conference's best 10.
I think we can definitely say now that fifth on the list was not only not too high, but maybe a spot or two low for Hall, as he really came into his own this season and led his team very deep into March, dreadlocks or no. That was probably where I should have switched him with Jake Odum, who once again showed flashes but was inconsistent (much like his entire team) across the course of a full season.
Anthony James taught me a lesson this season - the difference between "leading scorer" and "most valuable." While James was the Panthers' leading scorer again this season, he was neither their most valuable player, nor even their most efficient offensive weapon, depending on which KenPom metric you would like to focus on. That would belong to either Seth Tuttle or the criminally underused Marc Sonnen.
I also couldn't have been more wrong about Dantiel Daniels, who just like James wasn't even the most (or second most) valuable player on his own team. While Daniels was indeed an offensive asset, both Desmar Jackson and Jeff Early were more valuable in the big picture to the Salukis (and it's too bad for coach Barry Hinson that they're all gone now after Daniels' transfer).
As for Echenique - he was indeed valuable, but in a very limited role (often limited due to his difficulties with foul trouble). The fact that he was outrebounded in any category by Doug McDermott is a shame given his incomparable size within the conference, so I will not be counting him in my "shoulda seen that coming" list.
The players that do belong on that list include Tyler Brown and Cleanthony Early. Brown was Robin to Jackie Carmichael's judo kicking Batman in Illinois State's success, while Early went back and forth between starting and sixth-manning out of his mind - perhaps one of those "Best Shape of His Life" situations.
For next season, the MVC is losing a lot of senior talent (most of the players I've mentioned so far). But the young players are coming on - Marcus Marshall at Missouri State, Anthony Beane, Jr. at Southern Illinois, Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet at Wichita State among others. And let's not forget Tuttle or Early - boy, the MVC is going to be fun next season.