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Postseason Awards: All Mid-Major Madness First Team

It’s a West Coast-heavy bunch once again.

NCAA Basketball: Duquesne at Dayton David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

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 First Team. Yes it’s been like a week since we gave you the second team. Sorry.

NCAA Basketball: West Coast Conference Tournament-BYU vs Saint Mary’s Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Ford — Saint Mary’s

2019-20 stats: 21.9 PPG — 3.0 RPG — 41.1 3P%

The man with college basketball’s best facial hair did what you expected him to do last season: pour in buckets and drive one of the country’s most effective offenses. That likely underplays the campaign Ford just completed, since the senior marksman produced elite offensive production for a second consecutive season despite heavy responsibility (14th highest minute percentage in the country). In total, it was an excellent capstone to a four-year career that saw Ford go from little-used freshman to program icon.

Like so many players, the coronavirus robbed Ford of his chance to really put an exclamation mark on that outstanding career. But he shone at — what turned out to be — the very end. Our own Kyle Cajero was on hand in Las Vegas to write about Ford sinking both Pepperdine and BYU in dramatic fashion to send the Gaels to the WCC championship game.

NCAA Basketball: Utah State at San Diego State Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Merrill — Utah State

2019-20 stats: 19.7 PPG — 4.1 RPG — 3.9 APG

The Utah State workhorse came into the season with big expectations on himself and his team. Merrill lived up to those lofty expectations individually and, in the end, led the Aggies right where many thought they’d be, the NCAA Tournament. The senior guard replicated his AP honorable mention All-American form last season, and took home his second consecutive MWC Tournament MVP award after drilling a three to beat San Diego State in the final.

Merrill was a major contributor at USU since day one, making 118 starts and averaging 33.1 minutes per game over his four-year career in Logan. He leaves the program at number two in the record books in career points, assists and three pointers made.

NCAA Basketball: San Diego at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Filip Petrusev — Gonzaga

2019-20 stats: 17.5 PPG — 7.9 RPG — 56.2 FG%

Mark Few’s development factory rolled out another gem in Petrusev. The four-star prospect was largely along for the ride as a freshman in 2018-19, logging just 11.4 minutes per game on a Zags team loaded with NBA-bound bigs. But Petrusev grabbed the leading role in the Gonzaga front court last season, exploding into one of the country’s most deadly low-post players.

The sophomore landed on the AP All-American third team, and announced himself to the country right away with a 22-point, 15-rebound effort to lead the Zags over Oregon in the Battle 4 Atlantis semifinal. He closed the season by scoring in double figures in 12-straight games, and was the first underclassmen to win WCC POY since 1981. He’ll be among the frontrunners for national POY should he return for his junior season.

NCAA Basketball: San Diego State at Nevada David Calvert-USA TODAY Sports

Malachi Flynn — San Diego State

2019-20 stats: 17.6 PPG — 5.1 APG — 4.5 RPG

There are good transfers, and then there’s Flynn. The former Washington State guard was the stick that stirred the drink for the Aztecs’ incredible 2019-20 season, operating the point for a team that didn’t lose a game until late February. The MWC POY helped engineer the 11th-most efficient offense in the country per KenPom, and was an elite defender on a team that similarly finished 10th in defensive efficiency.

Should Flynn return — many sites project him as a late first/early second round pick — he’d likely be the clear frontrunner for national POY. His blend of playmaking, shooting, defending and late-game poise would have SDSU yet again in the national conversation.

NCAA Basketball: Davidson at Dayton David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Obi Toppin — Dayton

2019-20 stats: 20.0 PPG — 7.5 RPG — 63.3 FG%

Is there any doubt who would be toppin’ this list? The enduring image of this strange unique college basketball season may well be Toppin dunking the competition into oblivion and with the Flyer forward off to the NBA, we need to get in all the puns while we still can.

Toppin’s star turn was at the center of Dayton emerging as a No. 1-seed worthy team that ran through a gritty A-10 undefeated. He was arguably the best player at the Maui Invitational, which was the appetizer for a season that saw him efficiently, and athletically, lead one of the best Flyers’ teams in program history. Toppin exited at his best, with 27 points (11-15 FG) in Dayton’s win over George Washington to close its perfect league campaign.