With The Other Top 25 Preseason Rankings countdown fully underway and the season set to begin in less than a week, now is the perfect time to hand out some preseason hardware.
The Mid-Major Madness staff’s votes have been tallied, so let’s take a look at who was selected for Third Team All-Mid-Major Madness. As usual (we’re dealing with 25 conferences here), there was a deep pool to choose from, which means some great players just missed the cut.
Among those finishing a few votes short were our honorable mentions: the reigning ASUN Player of the Year Ahsan Asadullah, MAAC Player of the Year Jalen Pickett, Mountain West Preseason Player of the Year Derrick Alston Jr., and one of the most intriguing freshmen in the country, Makur Maker.
All-Mid-Major Madness Third Team
Charles Bassey, Jr., C, Western Kentucky
A member of the Preseason Third-Team All-Mid-Major Madness for the second year in a row, Bassey started out last season strong before suffering a tibial plateau fracture against Arkansas 10 games into his sophomore campaign. The big man has been touted as a high-level NBA draft prospect for most of his tenure in Bowling Green, but this year’s squad could be the best team the Hilltoppers have had since his arrival on campus. WKU may be in the hunt for an at-large bid this season. Bassey returning from injury to his normal double-double self will go a long way toward determining how far they can go.
Matt Mitchell, Sr., F, San Diego State
As one of only two returning starters from San Diego State’s program-best 2019-20 squad and a homegrown senior amongst an army of transfers, the leadership burden is going to fall squarely on Mitchell’s shoulders this season. Losing Malachi Flynn, Yanni Wetzell, and KJ Feagin from a 30-2 Aztecs team hurts, but Mitchell’s return is one of the big reasons why San Diego State still landed in the top five of our Other Top 25 Preseason Rankings. The senior’s efficiency and versatility should help him thrive in even more of a featured role this season.
AJ Green, Jr., G, Northern Iowa
The reigning Missouri Valley Player of the Year returned to school after testing out the NBA Draft waters in the offseason. Green is a sharpshooter that can flat out score from all over the court. His unwavering ability to get the line and bomb away from far beyond the arc helped guide UNI’s efficient offense a year ago and should be the center of the Panthers’ attack once again. Green earned national attention early last season while starring in non-conference wins over South Carolina and Colorado, and he should have that chance again this year at the Crossover Classic where West Virginia, Memphis, Saint Mary’s, and more await.
Loren Cristian Jackson, Sr., G, Akron
It’s a testament to the depth of this season’s player pool that the reigning Players of the Year in the MVC and MAC, two traditionally stronger mid-major conferences, are on the Third Team. Loren Christian Jackson was a surprise winner of MAC’s top individual honor last season. Heading into the 2019-20 campaign, Justin Turner and Jayvon Graves would have been the expected front runners for the award, but Jackson and Akron exceeded all expectations en route to a 24-7 record. The diminutive guard can pour it in from three-point range and the three-point line. For Akron to stay on top of the MAC, Jackson will need to continue the 30-point barrages.
Jhivvan Jackson, Sr., G, UTSA
The nation’s leading returning scorer is back in San Antonio for one more chance to light up everyone. Jackson has accomplished just about everything he can on an individual level, outside of a conference player of the year award. But the senior has yet to drag the Roadrunners to so much as a conference tournament win since his freshman season in a competitive C-USA. Jackson and fellow senior Keaton Wallace form one of the most dangerous backcourts in the country. If UTSA is going to break into the top half of the league, the dynamic duo may have to up their already outrageous scoring numbers.