In a league dominated by the Bison, it’s no surprise that Nana Foulland tops the awards list. The best player on the best team in the conference (though some could argue teammate Zach Thomas is even better), Foulland is looking to build off his statement-making performance against West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. He scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds in that game against one of the nation’s stingiest defenses. If Foulland can fine-tune some more important offensive parts of his game, there is no doubt the rest of the country will take notice. It could even lead to a spot on an NBA roster.
Meanwhile Lehigh has a few players who can make an impact on the Patriot League race in Kahron Ross an Lance Tejada. Fans in Bethlehem, PA are wondering if Tejada can play the way he did to receive recruiting interest from bigger schools. A transfer from East Carolina, Tejada sat out last year and can make an impact right away.
Player of the Year & Defensive Player of the Year: Nana Foulland, Sr., C, Bucknell
Defending Patriot League Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Foulland is the early favorite to defend both titles as a senior. Last season he averaged 15 points and eight rebounds per game along with a pair of blocks to help a stout Bison front court defend the rim. Look for more of the same this year from Foulland, who connected on 63 percent of his field goal attempts.
Newcomer of the Year: Sam Iorio, Fr., F, American
At 6’5, Iorio could make an impact right away for the American Eagles. Hailing from Allentown, PA, Iorio is a well-rounded player who has great finishing ability around the rim, but isn’t afraid to step out and take a three. The biggest adjustment for Iorio will be the pace of play, as he didn’t face the best competition in high school. Look for him to get early minutes and contribute.
Kahron Ross, Sr., G, Lehigh
Last season, on a team led by former league Player of the Year Tim Kempton, Ross saw his numbers drop from previous years. With Kempton gone and Lehigh unsure about its front court, look for Ross to both get to the basket and bomb some threes. He nearly averaged double figures last year while shooting about 40 percent from beyond the arc.
Andre Walker, Sr., G, Loyola (Md.)
Walker is a shifty guard who can put up points in a hurry, yet somehow the only thing that can keep him off the first team is his shooting. At only 35 percent from the field, Walker will need to be more selective. He shined in a win over Boston U. last season, scoring 35 points on 18 of 26 shooting and nine threes. Look for Loyola’s offense to run through him.
Zach Thomas, Sr., F, Bucknell
As reigning Patriot League Tournament MVP, Thomas could easily be in the conversation for league player of the year. But while Thomas consistently showed his talent, he would also often leave the Bison fans shaking their heads. Thomas committed four or more turnovers 15 times last season, but still scored 15.9 points and had 6.6 rebounds per game.
Shawn Anderson, Sr., G, Navy
Anderson is a streaky player who is listed as a guard, but can truly play anywhere 1 through 4. His shooting numbers dipped from his sophomore to junior seasons, but he found some life late when he dropped 30 on Army in an overtime win for the Midshipmen. Look for Anderson to build off his late-season performances.
Nana Foulland, Bucknell
Stephen Brown, G, Sr., Bucknell
Brown is probably the best player in the league with the ball in his hands and can get to the rim nearly at will. At a generous 5’11, Brown leads the stout Bison offense. Never afraid to come down and pull up from three if no one challenges him, he is a true fast-break nightmare. Brown in the engine that makes the offense flow.
Lance Tejada, Jr., G, Lehigh
Tejada, the transfer from East Carolina, looks to make an impact right away. Even though he put up subpar numbers in his first two years at ECU, look for him to be a focal point on this new-look Mountain Hawk team. He is a player with unlimited range and he could hurt some teams in the fast break.
Kimbal MacKenzie, Jr., G, Bucknell
Perhaps the most improved player in the league from his freshman to sophomore years, MacKenzie is a hard-nosed player who doesn’t back down from challenges. He can shoot from the corners and can get the ball into Foulland in the post with ease. If Mackenzie continues to improve, he will be a deadly third option behind Foulland and Thomas.
Cedric Hankerson, Sr., G, Boston University
Derailed by injury two seasons ago, Hankerson looks to take a step forward from last season. Hankerson shot only 36 percent last year, so he will have to be more selective in an offense that loses a lot from 2016-17. If he wants to make an impact, he will have to step inside the three-point line, as all but 46 of his 261 field goal attempts were from three a year ago.
Matt Klinewski, Sr., F, Lafayette
Klinewski comes off a year where he was one of the only bright spots for the struggling Leopards. Averaging 16 points and six rebounds doesn’t seem like a lot, but it was a big step for Klinewski to boost his numbers from two years ago. He showed what he can do around the rim with two 30-point performances a year ago.