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Patriot League: An early look at the all-conference candidates

Lehigh, Bucknell, and BU lead the charge

NCAA Basketball: Lehigh at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve already gone over the teams who should contend in the Patriot League. With Lehigh, Bucknell and Boston University expected to be at the top, it’s no real surprise that their players are well-represented as we start looking at the top players in the conference.

Here are the top First-Team All-Patriot League candidates:

Tim Kempton (Lehigh): Kempton’s Patriot League career has been storied. As a freshman, he was awarded Patriot League Rookie of the Year honors, and was a finalist for the Kyle Macy National Freshman of the Year Award, finishing behind now-Brooklyn Net Anthony Bennett. Kempton will enter the 2016-17 season as a two-time Patriot League player of the year, and was one of only two unanimous choices for the All-Patriot League First Team last season. There is no reason to think that Kempton’s dominance won’t continue throughout his senior year, as Lehigh looks to pass Bucknell and take first in the Patriot League.

Kahron Ross (Lehigh): Ross has been doing his best to follow in Kempton’s footsteps. Now a junior, Ross has twosuccessful seasons at Lehigh under his belt. Ross was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Year in his freshman campaign, and followed that up in his sophomore year by being named to the All-Patriot League First Team. Ross lead the Patriot league in assists per game (6.1), and was Lehigh’s third leading scorer (11.2). With Lehigh expected to be dominant, they will be well represented in All-League honors.

Nana Foulland (Bucknell): Foulland, now a junior, was named second-team all-Patriot League in his sophomore season. Foulland led the team in both blocks per game (1.4) and rebounds (6.9), with his rebounding mark also fifth in the Patriot League. He was the Bison’s second-leading scorer, behind Chris Hass, and will have an increased role this season to make up for Hass’s departure. This increased role should propel him in to first-team honors.

Andre Walker (Loyola-Maryland): As a freshman, Walker was a contender for Patriot League Rookie of the Year, but settled for a spot on the All-Rookie team. As a sophomore, he started every game and led Loyola in points, steals, and assists per game. Walker was the only player in the Patriot League during the 2015-16 season to rank in the top 10 conference-wide in those three categories, plus free throw percentage and three-point percentage. Now, to see what his junior year brings.

Other candidates to land on the All-Patriot League First Team include a trio of BU Terriers. Eric Fanning was given first team honors last season and could repeat this year. Fanning was the Terriers’ leading scorer, and was the fifth-leading scorer in the Patriot League, averaging 15.2 points per game.

Kyle Forman, who landed on the Patriot League All-Rookie team last season, joins him. He averaged 9.2 points per game off of an impressive 42.8 percent from the field as a freshman. Cedric Hankerson is also a candidate. Hankerson missed nearly all of last season with a medical redshirt, but showed promise during his freshman and sophomore efforts. His last active season, 2014-15, ended with Patriot League All-Second Team honors and a 15.9 points per game scoring average.

Holy Cross, the unlikely winners of last season’s conference championship, also deserve recognition here. Despite ending up the eventual champions of the conference, the only Crusader to land on an All-Conference team was freshman Karl Charles, on the All-Rookie team. Malachi Alexander should be given consideration as well. The 6’7 forward was Holy Cross’s leader in assists (2.8 per game) and rebounds (5.6 per game), and was the second-leading scorer on the roster, coming in at 11.8 points per game.