Welcome to the postseason awards at Mid-Major Madness! As we enter the offseason, we’re honoring the best players, coaches, teams, and games from the 2019-20 season, continuing today with our All-Mid-Major Madness Second Team. Yes it’s been like a week since we gave you the third team. Sorry.
Nathan Knight — William & Mary
2019-20 stats: 20.7 PPG – 10.5 RPG – 1.5 BPG
This really seemed like the year for William & Mary to break through and finally leave the NMTC. Even though the Tribe fell short in the CAA Tournament, Knight was, literally, a huge reason why they were successful this year. The 6’10, 253-pound big man scored in double figures in every game but one and ranked 10th in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage. It was Knight’s third straight year of utter dominance in the CAA. He finishes his career with 2,141 career points, good for second all-time for the program (bonus points if you could name the Tribe’s all-time leading scorer).
Big picture: Knight led William & Mary to 21 wins — the most the program has had in a single season since 2010. He was the CAA Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, joining George Evans as the only players to ever win both awards in the same season. Knight is a mid-major legend and will make a career playing basketball professionally. Wherever it may be.
Yoeli Childs — BYU
2019-20 stats: 22.2 PPG – 9.0 RPG – 57.4% FG – 49% 3PT
You could argue a whole bunch of guys as the most important player to his team in college basketball this season. I don’t know where Childs falls in there, but I do know this: The Cougars lost eight times in 2019-20 and Childs was only on the court for three of those games, all away from home and all by only one point or in overtime. BYU lost to Gonzaga by 23 with Childs on the bench and beat them by 13 with Childs on the court (he went for 28-and-10 in that game).
If Childs was healthy and eligible all year, he would have had a great argument for the first team. Heck, maybe he still does. He’s also now the only player in BYU’s damn-good history to accumulate 2,000 career points and 1,000 rebounds. More importantly to this BYU team, he filled a humongous void that was exposed during Childs’ odd suspension. Will Maupin wrote about this earlier in the year — BYU not having a true big man was a serious problem; without Childs, the Cougars were one of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the nation.
Colbey Ross — Pepperdine
2019-20 stats: 20.5 PPG – 7.2 APG – 4.7 RPG – 34.9% 3PT
Over the past few decades, Pepperdine head coach Lorenzo Romar has developed guards like Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson, Isaiah Thomas, Dejounte Murray and Markelle Fultz — all of whom went on to NBA careers. Right now, it’s Colbey Ross’s time.
Ross was the one Wave opponents couldn’t contain this season. Although his shooting splits dipped slightly from last year, the junior asserted himself more often in 2019-20, established himself as the Waves’ go-to guy in crunch time and was one of nine players to average at least 20 points, 7.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game since the 1992-93 season. When his shot wasn’t there, he was still effective. Ross scored in double-figures in almost every game this season, but averaged 8.5 assists per game when he didn’t.
Along the way, he set Pepperdine’s new career assist record, had the second-highest scoring effort in WCC Tournament history, dropped 38 on USC and out-shone probable lottery pick Nico Mannion for 39 minutes in the Wooden Legacy Tournament. The 6’1 guard also became a more proficient rebounder by raising those figures from 2.9 RPG to 4.7 rebounds per game, making him even more valuable on a team that lacked consistent interior play.
So, what’s next? Ross is 24 points away from Pepperdine’s all-time scoring record, and is on pace to score 2,400 points and dish out 800 assists in his career. Not bad for a player who had just three Division I offers in high school.
A.J. Green — Northern Iowa
2019-20 stats: 19.7 PPG – 3.0 APG – 92% FT – 39% 3PT
Here’s a shock: Ben Jacobson’s team overachieved this year and was, in fact, really really good. Northern Iowa had the 23rd most efficient offense in college basketball, led by its 6’4 sophomore stud, A.J. Green. This guy was excellent in 2018-19, but made a name for himself this year early when the Panthers knocked off Power 5 opponents South Carolina and Colorado. In those two games, played two weeks apart, he averaged 23 points, shot 7-15 from three, and went 13-15 from the line. It was merely a preview for what was to come.
In MVC play, he averaged 21.8 points per game and received 39 out of 49 first-place votes in league player of the year voting. No team in the conference relied on one player more, as Green played more than 90 percent of his team’s minutes — first in the MVC — and was used on 29.9 percent of possessions, which ranked third.
Jalen Crutcher — Dayton
2019-20 stats: 15.1 PPG – 4.9 APG – 3.2 RPG – 42% 3PT
Jalen Crutcher would probably prefer if you didn’t think of him as “that Dayton player who isn’t Obi Toppin,” but that’s kind of what happened to any Flyer player who was not the AP Player of the Year. Make no mistake: Dayton does not go unbeaten in the Atlantic 10 without Crutcher.
He was at his best when the Flyers needed him the most. Crutcher played 44 minutes in Dayton’s overtime win over Saint Louis, scoring 21 points in the process. His last three won the game.
12 days later, he hit four threes and doled out six assists as Dayton slipped by Duquesne. Dayton wasn’t in many close games this conference season, but when they were, Crutcher came through.