Welcome to awards week at Mid-Major Madness! This week, we’re honoring the best players, coach, and game from the 2018-19 season, continuing today with our All-Mid-Major Madness Second Team.
Sam Merrill, Utah State, Jr.
2018-19 Stats: 20.9 PPG | 4.2 APG | 37.6% 3PT | 90.9% FT
Yeah, Merrill’s been good for a while. But he didn’t burst onto the scene nationally until conference play this year when he helped the Aggies rip through the middle portion of the Mountain West schedule. His best stretch came when he scored 20-or-more points in six out of seven games, including a 35-point performance in a nationally televised loss to San Diego State. Overall, he led the Aggies to a 17-1 record from Jan. 12 until the NCAA Tournament. Assuming nothing crazy happens in the offseason, he should have Utah State in the conversation for a national ranking in November.
Jordan Caroline, Nevada, Sr.
2018-19 Stats: 17.0 PPG | 9.6 RPG | 36.8% 3PT
Caroline may have been slowed by an injury late in the year, but his play until that point is a major reason why Nevada piled up 29 wins. Until he re-aggravated a foot injury with eight games to go, he had been scoring nearly 20 a game and had just had a 40-point outing in a win over Colorado State. He routinely played 37-or-more minutes per night, picked up double-doubles, and reliably hit threes. The better Caroline looked, the better Nevada played. In fact, the Wolf Pack lost only one game in which he scored more than eight points. Overall, he failed to reach double figures in only four of his 33 games.
Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga, Jr.
2018-19 Stats: 16.9 PPG | 8.6 RPG | 68.7% FG
It’s tough to have a more productive season that Brandon Clarke had in Spokane this year. The craziest part about the guy who shot a nice 69 percent from the field, as Slipper Still Fits points out, is that he wasn’t even supposed to be in the starting lineup. Had Killian Tillie never gotten hurt, the Bulldogs would have brought off the bench the guy who led the nation in field goal percentage, ranked fifth in blocks and placed fifth in KenPom’s Player of the Year rankings. Clarke still hasn’t announced his NBA Draft plans, but if he decides to forgo his final season of eligibility, he projects as a first-round pick. Even if he does leave, we’ll always have this block:
Justin Wright-Foreman, Hofstra, Sr.
2018-19 Stats: 27.1 PPG | 51.1% FG | 42.5% 3PT | 86.4% FT
Every year, mid-major basketball tends to give us a few seniors who could score approximately a billion points a game. Wright-Foreman was one of them this year as he nearly carried the Pride to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001. The two-time CAA player of the year had three 40-plus-point games this season, including a 48-point barrage against William & Mary where he went seven-for-12 from three and 16-for-24 overall. Wright-Foreman finished his career with 88 consecutive double-figure scoring games — one of the longest such streaks in Division I history. He also had this bonkers game-winner against conference rival and eventual champion Northeastern:
Chris Clemons, Campbell, Sr.
2018-19 Stats: 30.1 PPG | 5.1 RPG | 35.7% 3PT | 86.9% FT
Hey, speaking of guys who score a billion points, here’s site-favorite Chris Clemons, the 5’9 camel-fighting bucket-getter. Did you think Wright-Foreman’s three 40-point games was impressive? Well, it was, but Clemons did it four times this year. Gardner-Webb may have robbed us from getting to see him in the NCAA Tournament, but Clemons still dazzled in the postseason, scoring 89 points over his final three collegiate games. Campbell’s all-time leading scorer also finished third overall in scoring in Division I history (3,225 career points) and fifth in three-pointers made (444). He’s not projected as a first-round pick, but if you post numbers like that at the college level, you’ll get a fair look from some NBA teams over the summer.
Tomorrow: All-Mid-Major Madness First Team