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Atlantic 10 Preseason Awards: Kellan Grady goes from Freshman of the Year to Player of the Year

Cart’Are Gordon is the newcomer of the year

NCAA Basketball: Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlantic 10 has four legitimate contenders in Davidson, Saint Louis, Saint Joseph’s and George Mason. So it’s no surprise that all but four all-conference awards go to players from these programs.

Here’s who we see taking home the hardware in the A-10:

Player of the Year: G Kellan Grady, Sophomore, Davidson

2017-18 stats: 18.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.9 apg, 50.1% shooting

Kellan Grady was a special freshman last season, and he only got stronger as it went on. He averaged 19.6 points per game in the conference tournament and put the team on his back to capture the conference title. And it takes a special kind of player to be compared to the GOAT at Davidson, Steph Curry. I’m not saying Grady is at that level, but the two do have similar games through this point in their respective careers.

Last year’s A-10 rookie of the year should know exactly what it takes to win this award, because his former teammate Peyton Aldridge split it with St. Bonaventure’s Jaylen Adams last year. Now that Aldridge has graduated, it is Grady’s team. Seeing that he scored 18 a game as the second option, it is scary to think what he can do this year.

His numbers from the perimeter should improve — he was 37 percent from deep but that number was a bit misleading as he was extremely streaky. Having a full offseason will help him get more consistent from behind the arc. This amount of improvement and projection sets him up perfectly for this award.

Newcomer of the Year: F Carte’Are Gordon, Forward, Saint Louis

I don’t know if you heard, but Carte’Are Gordon broke a backboard this offseason.

But that’s not all the top-100 recruit is. He is an absolute stud down low and has the ability to dominate the glass and can stretch out to the perimeter. His senior year, he averaged 19.1 points 8.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. He has the makings to be an all-conference member as a freshman.

Dark Horse Team

Duquesne Dukes

2017-18 record: 16-16 (7-11) 12th A-10

I have Duquesne coming in 11th this season, but if there is one team I can see really surprising, it’s the Dukes. They were expected to finish near the bottom last season, but managed 10th place and bring a lot back this year.

They are returning their top two scorers in Mike Lewis and Eric Williams Jr. who both averaged more than 14 a game last season. The addition of Missouri lead guard Frankie Hughes could stabilize this offense, and if this happens, the Dukes could shoot up to the top half of the Atlantic 10.

Preseason All-Atlantic-10 First Team

Kellan Grady, Davidson

See above.

G Otis Livingston II, Senior, George Mason

2017-18 stats: 17.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.4 apg, 43.6% FG

One of the streakiest players in the A-10, Livingston scored more than 20 points 14 times and failed to reach 10 points six times, including two games over 30 and two games with three. George Mason sits in the top tier of teams within the conference and he is a legitimate player of the year candidate. He is a pure scorer and George Mason fans live and die with his successes.

G Luwane Pipkins, Junior, UMass

2017-18 stats: 21.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.9 spg, 43% FG, 42.6% 3PT

Pipkins is Mr. Do Everything for the Minutemen. He scores, passes, defends, is pretty efficient with a 1.17 assists-to-turnover ratio. UMass is on the rise and it is thanks to this man. Pipkins very well could lead the A-10 in scoring. He will have some help this season and thanks to that, his numbers should be even better. Matt McCall’s star guard should become more efficient this season.

F Josh Cunningham, Senior, Dayton

2017-18 stats: 15.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.7 apg, 64.6% FG

This big man is the class of the conference. Averaging near a double-double, Cunningham now is the best in the conference in the front court. When he is near the glass he will get the ball once it misses. He is most effective around the paint but he can stretch it out with mid-range jumpers or can step back and hit a three. He had one game where he dropped 30 points on URI last season and another where he scored 29 against Georgia State. He had 11 total double-doubles.

F Grant Golden, Redshirt Sophomore, Richmond

2017-18 stats: 15.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.2 bpg, 49.8% FG

Golden led the Spiders in scoring last season and was just shy of leading the team in rebounding. With De’Monte Buckingham no longer with the team, Golden’s role only expands in the low post. He had five double-doubles in his first season with another good rebounder on the court. Now he is the only decent returning rebounder on the team. Don’t be surprised if he leads the conference in both rebounds and double-doubles because of his lack of help down low.

Preseason All-Atlantic-10 Second Team

G Javon Bess, Senior, Saint Louis

2017-18 stats: 13.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.2 apg, 39.5% FG

The Michigan State transfer Javon Bess is the first of two Billikens on the second team. Bess is a hard matchup for opponents as he led the defensive-minded Billikens in scoring with just over 13 a game. But his most valuable asset is his defensive prowess. He was selected to the A-10 All-Defensive team at Atlantic 10 media day. Analytically, Bess has 1.9 defensive win shares, meaning his defense contributed to about two whole wins for SLU last season.

G Jordan Goodwin, Sophomore, Saint Louis

2017-18 stats: 11.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, 37.2% FG

The next Billiken, Jordan Goodwin, had a phenomenal freshman season and in most years it would have been enough to win rookie of the year. He only played in 26 games last season and he was a bit streaky offensively, but his knack for getting assists is his ultimate strength. He had multiple games with double-digit assists including a triple-double in a win against Duquesne.

G Jon Axel Gudmundsson, Junior, Davidson

2017-18 stats: 13.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 5.1 apg, 46% FG, 40.6% 3PT

Davidson’s toughest player is their big number two to Kellan Grady. Gudmundsson is a do it all player that does the dirty work. He is also an elite defender, being named to the Preseason All-defensive Team at Atlantic-10 Media Day. He has a DWS of 1.1 which is an astounding number for a player with his offensive prowess. He is the key ball distributor for the Wildcats and he makes that offense work getting the bigs involved as well as the strong backcourt.

F Charlie Brown Jr., Redshirt Sophomore, Saint Joseph’s

2016-17 stats: 12.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.1 apg, 37.5% FG

Brown missed all of last season with a broken wrist, but should be a difference-maker htis year. Brown actually shot better behind the arc than he did overall with 38.4 percent mark from three. He is a stretch four that when he is out there makes SJU a real threat to make the big dance come March. But this all comes down to whether or not he comes back better than he was his freshman season.

F Courtney Stockard, Senior, St. Bonaventure

2017-18 stats: 13.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.2 apg, 48.5% shooting

Stockard is the best player returning to a depleted Bonnies team. After the graduations of Matt Mobley and Jaylen Adams, this is his team now. The question with this choice is whether or not the Bonnies can get the ball to the post as frequently as before without their star guards commanding the point. Stockard’s best game came in a win against VCU when he put up 21 points and 14 rebounds.