Good news for the players returning to America East: none of the first-team players from last season will return this season with four graduating and Joe Cremo transferring to Villanova.
The bad news is that a healthy Anthony Lamb will return after playing just 17 games in 2017-18 due to a broken foot. But Lamb is just one player, of course. Who else will step up to make their name known in America East this season?
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Anthony Lamb, Jr., F, Vermont
Even when he did play last season, Lamb was not quite as effective as he was in a dominant freshman season when filled the stat sheet in almost every category, and had 20 points and nine rebounds (with no turnovers) against Purdue in the NCAA Tournament. While his foot will be an early question, the bigger one may be how he adapts to a new Vermont roster as one of the leaders.
At 6-foot-6, Lamb is not a towering figure, but his ability to get to the rim and finish when he gets there makes him a virtually unstoppable force in America East when he is at his best. While there are plenty of changes to the Catamounts’ roster, Lamb will have some help from others, and should have quite the resume to point to by March.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Isaiah Moll, Vermont
There are a few names to choose from in this category, including more Australians in Albany, another Puerto Rican point guard (Jose Placer) at UMBC, and another Duncan (Robin) at Vermont. But Moll seems to be in the best position to help his team at the moment with all the post players that the Catamounts graduated. At 6-foot-7, Moll won’t spend all his time in the post, but the team hopes - like Lamb - he can battle down there when they need him to and be a matchup nightmare for opponents on the offensive end. He comes from the Albany area as well if you’re looking for America East rivalry fodder.
DARKHORSE TEAM - Stony Brook
Hartford is the obvious choice here and the America East isn’t usually prone to darkhorses from the bottom of the standings doing much damage. But the Hawks, with where they finished last season and the amount of talent returning, can’t really be considered a darkhorse. So we’ll take a look at Stony Brook. To use a terrible, overused term, there is plenty of upside there, starting with Akwasi Yeboah and Elijah Olaniyi. Jeff Boals also seemed like he started to figure things out at the end of last year, so maybe the Seawolves will be headed back to the top of the America East standings sooner rather than later?
John Carroll, Sr., C, Hartford
Ernie Duncan, Sr., G, Vermont
Jason Dunne, Sr., G, Hartford
Anthony Lamb., Jr., F, Vermont
Akwasi Yeboah, Jr., F, Stony Brook
You could make a case for three Hartford players on the first team, which is why the Hawks are a legitimate contender to win the America East this season. If there will be a challenger for Player of the Year to Lamb, it would probably be Yeboah, who needs to cut down on his turnovers and improve his shooting, two things he is probably working on as you read this. Duncan also missed time due to injury last season, and while Vermont was able to survive (thrive, in fact) without Lamb and Duncan, they probably won’t this season. Unless one of the other Duncans fills in for him, of course.
Thomas Bruce, Sr., C, Binghamton
Arkel Lamar, Jr., F, UMBC
J.R. Lynch, Sr., G, Hartford
J.C. Show, Sr., G, Binghamton
Isaiah White, Jr., F, Maine
The biggest surprise may be seeing two Binghamton players here, but Bruce was the league’s second leading rebounder (behind New Hampshire’s then-senior Iba Camara) last season and is a heavy favorite to win that crown this season, while Show has the potential to go off for big numbers every night. Lynch probably has a good case to be interchanged with one of his two teammates on the first team, as the three (all in different roles) will work together as a veteran trio to attempt to get Hartford to its first NCAA Tournament in school history. Lamar and White seem like they are ready for a big jump as both will given an opportunity to lead their respective teams, although obviously the pressure will be slightly different, as Lamar will have to do so for a team nationally known now, while White and Maine will be under the radar of all but the most diehard college basketball fans (like you).