In the last month, we’ve unveiled almost everything there is to unveil when preparing for the college basketball season. We previewed every single conference. We provided in depth breakdowns of every team in our Top 25 Rankings. We released our All-American list.
The final step is announcing our preseason awards. Let’s get to it.
Player of the Year: Mike Daum, Forward, South Dakota State (5 votes)
When you go back and look at the most pivotal decisions of the offseason, Daum’s decision to finish his career as a Jackrabbit instead of transferring to a Power 5 program should not go overlooked. He’s going to reach 3,000 points sometime this season, making him the ninth (or tenth, depending on how fast Chris Clemons gets there) to reach that milestone. He’s one of the few players in college basketball that you can truly call appointment viewing every night. He’s one of the game’s most unique scorers, and has become the perfect weapon to optimize South Dakota State’s offensive attack. The only blip on his resume is the lack of NCAA Tournament success. With the Jackrabbits being the heavy favorites to advance to a fourth straight NCAA Tournament, a March run would be the perfect swan song for one of the best mid-major players in recent memory.
Also receiving votes: Jon Elmore, Marshall (2 votes), Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga (1 vote)
Freshman of the Year: Charles Bassey, Forward, Western Kentucky (7 votes)
Charles Bassey’s arrival should help alleviate whatever pain Mitchell Robinson caused Hilltopper fans. The No. 6 recruit in the 2018 class is, to put it simply, a monster. His size and athleticism should allow him to be a force on both ends of the floor. He’ll have the benefit of playing alongside an experienced and talented roster that should help him adjust to the college game. It’s not unreasonable to think he could be just the 18th freshman to average a double-double since 2006-07. Western Kentucky has NCAA Tournament aspirations and Bassey will play a huge role in helping them get there.
Also receiving votes: Jordan Brown, Nevada (1 vote)
Coach of the Year: Eric Musselman (3 votes)
The voting was more spread out for Coach of the Year, but I don’t think anyone will cause a fuss over Muss. You know the hype with Nevada: top-10 team, national title contender, etc. Musselman has quickly become a star in the college basketball coaching world, and this year could be his greatest showing yet. With a roster that’s deeper than almost any in the country, he has the talent at his disposal to take Nevada to its first Final Four in program history. KenPom has them favored in every game this year, and it’s possible that Nevada wins more games than any other team in college basketball in the regular season. If they combine that with postseason success, it’ll be hard to argue against Musselman as Coach of the Year.
Also receiving votes: Rick Stansbury, Western Kentucky (1 vote), Tommy Amaker, Harvard (1 vote), LeVelle Moton, NC Central (1 vote), Nate Oats, Buffalo (1 vote), TJ Otzelberger, South Dakota State (1 vote)