Who would have believed that after losing so many exceptional players last season, that it would be so difficult to select just 15 players for the three All-NEC teams this year? After much debate, and some back-and-forth with other media members, I give you my 2014-2015 conference award predictions.
F - Jalen Cannon - Senior - SFC
F - Earl Brown - Senior - SFU
G - Marcquise Reed - Freshman - RMU
G - Marcus Burton - Senior - Wagner
G - Brent Jones - Senior - SFC
Cannon became just the second player in NEC history to record over 1,500 points and 1,000 rebounds; he also is the all-time leader in rebounds. Was there any doubt he'd make this team? Brown is a walking double-double and has improved his game beyond the three-point line in his final season.
At least three head coaches (not named Andy Toole) told the me/media that Reed is one of the best half-dozen players in the conference. So...let's award him as such. Wagner wouldn't be in the post season without Burton. Jones is the NEC's best guard who somehow became a better offensive weapon his senior season without sacrificing a ton of efficiency.
G/F - Lucky Jones - Senior - RMU
F - Dan Garvin - Sophomore - Bryant
G - Rodney Pryor - Junior - RMU
G - Dyami Starks - Senior - Bryant
G - Matt Mobley - Sophomore - CCSU
Maybe Jones didn't enjoy the season that many thought he would, but that doesn't mean he wasn't very good. He ranked in the top-10 in the conference in points per game, total rebounds, three-pointers made, and defensive rating - a rare combination. I admit, I didn't give Garvin his due until I really looked at the numbers. He ranked in the top-5 in total rebounds (and per game), total blocks (and per game), and offensive rating to go along with a top-10 rank in TS% and defensive rating.
Pryor's late surge made him a lock for at least the second-team, in my opinion. Over the last four games, he averaged 25.5 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game, and canned 16 out of 27 three-pointers (59.2%). Add three POW awards, and it's an easy choice. Starks led the NEC in points per game, three-pointers, and free throw percentage. The decline in his shooting percentages across the board, except from the charity stripe, slotted him here for me.
Had Mobley played on a better team, I would have considered him for the first-team. Still, he led the conference minutes played while ranking in the top-3 in points per game, free throws made (1st), and points produced.
F - Amdy Fall - Junior - SFC
F - Tevin Falzon - Junior - SHU
F - Gregory Graves - Junior - MSM
G - Joe O'Shea - Senior - Bryant
G - Cane Broome - Freshman - SHU
You simply don't drive into the paint if Fall is in the middle; he's the only player to average more than two blocks per game, and he averaged three. Falzon ranks among the NEC leaders in every major rebounding and blocks category. Graves was the Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers most consistent frontcourt player, and I couldn't leave a player off my top-15 that was on a team that has at least one home game in the conference tournament.
O'Shea is such an efficient player who does things that don't show up on the traditional box score. Broome ended the season extremely strong while other rookies struggled to produce as consistently. It would have been interesting to see who would would have won the ROY award if the season lasted two more weeks.
Others Considered: Faronte Drakeford (CCSU), Brandon Peel (CCSU), Mustafaa Jones (FDU), Gerrell Martin (LIU), Byron Ashe (MSM), Ronnie Drinnon (SFU), De'Von Barnett (SHU), Evan Kelley (SHU).
F - Nura Zanna - LIU
F - Elijah Minnie - RMU
G - Darin Anderson - FDU
G - Marcquise Reed - RMU
G - Cane Broome - SHU
Zanna is a beast on the block who will be giving opposing frontcourts fits for the next three years. Minnie may surprise people here, but he's been a starter on the second-best team in the conference. The upside on this guy may be higher than anyone else on this list.
Anderson benefited from playing a ton of minutes, but it wasn't like he didn't produce. Take a look at a lot of the stat leaders for various categories and Anderson's name is there: assists, steals, etc. A 27 point effort, which included 11 assists against the Sacred Heart Pioneers last week cemented his spot here. I already talked about Reed and Broome above, so their inclusion here is obvious.
Others Considered: Marques Townes (FDU), Martin Hermannsson (LIU).
Player of the Year: Brent Jones - Senior guard - SFC
Rookie of the Year: Marcquise Reed - Freshman guard - RMU
Defensive Player of the Year: Amdy Fall - Junior forward - SFC
Most Improved Player: Matt Mobley - Sophomore guard - CCSU
Coach of the Year: Glenn Braica - SFC
It's funny, but had the POY award been named Most Important Player or MVP, I think that Jones wins it. I am still going to drive the Jones for POY bus into the fires of Mt. Doom! As it stands, Cannon has crossed milestone after milestone this season and will certainly win. Broome's play of late may keep this from being unanimous, but Reed will win the ROY award barring a major scandal. If Fall doesn't win this award and some gambling on-ball defender does (who happens to benefit from Fall erasing all mistakes), I am never predicting this award ever again.
Mobley wins this award in a year where I really can't think of a ton of candidates along the same lines as Sidney Sanders Jr. from last year. Just because something is obvious doesn't mean it isn't true. That's pretty much why Braica should coach of the year. The St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers were picked to win the regular-season championship, but just because they lived up to that doesn't mean he shouldn't win.