With the OVC set to announce their all-conference teams tomorrow (on Twitter? Seriously? That sounds like something I’d do…) I figure I’d announce my end of season awards.
If for no other reason so that I can complain when there’s are released tomorrow.
Player of the Year: G Isaiah Canaan (Murray State) 19.4 PPG, 3.8 APG, 3.2 RPG, 1.4 SPG
Canaan has been the lifeblood of one of the best teams in the schools, and the OVC’s history. Kevin Murphy may have outscored Canaan this year, but took 131 more shots in doing so. Canaan was an outstanding 48.4% from 3-point range, and finished 2nd in the OVC in both scoring and assists, while also finishing in the top 10 in steals, free throw percentage, and in assist to turnover ratio. He’s been an outstanding player in all facets of the game, and I would be amazed if anybody else won this award this season.
Rest of the First Team (in alphabetical order)
F Robert Covington (Tennessee State) 18.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 1.3 APG, 1.3 BPG
In TSU’s first game this season, Covington finished with just 9 points. It was his only single-digit scoring night of the season. Much like Dillard, Covington was a consistent scorer and rebounder, who finished with 9 double-doubles on the season. He was a great shooter, with surprising range, who also hit big shots late to help his team be the only team to down the Racers. Covington was a great defensive threat, finishing in the top 5 in the conference in both steals and block.
G/F Jud Dillard (Tennessee Tech) 18.0 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 1.2 APG
Dillard was 2nd in the OVC in rebounding, 4th in scoring, and while he didn’t have the amazing games that teammate Kevin Murphy did, Dillard was a consistent double-digit scorer who had 8 double-doubles on the season. He wasn’t flashy, but he was a consistent threat night in and night out for the Golden Eagles.
G Kevin Murphy (Tennessee Tech) 20.6 PPG, 2.4 APG, 5.5 RPG
2 players from a 9-7 team? Yep. There was a point this season where I criticized Murphy’s inconsistent play, which at the time was true. Then he put together a streak of 6 games where he averaged 30 points, including the first (and only?) 50 point performance in college basketball this season against SIU Edwardsville. And when Murphy did struggle, so did his team, only showing how valuable he was to the Golden Eagles.
F Tyler Stone (SEMO) 14.3 PPG, 7.1 RPG
This is likely the first of my picks that will raise some eyebrows. Not Leon Powell? I hear you saying. Stone outscored Powell, out rebounded Powell, didn’t foul out of a single contest compared to 6 for Powell, shot 10% better from the free throw line than Powell, even committed fewer turnovers. Powell will likely get the nod over Stone because everyone knew who he was going into this season. But Stone was the better player this year, and that’s why he gets my first-team nod.
Second Team Selections (in alphabetical order)
C John Fraley (Austin Peay) 11.9 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.6 BPG
G Jaron Jones (Eastern Kentucky) 16.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.9 APG 1.5 SPG
F Leon Powell (SEMO) 10.9 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.3 BPG
G Zac Swansey (Tennessee Tech) 8.2 PPG, 5.9 APG, 2.2 SPG
F Mark Yelovich (SIU Edwardsville) 14.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.0 SPG
Fraley was a near first-team selection in my mind, but the injury-shortened season and more consistent scoring gave the edge to Stone in my mind. Jones is one of the best surprises in the conference this year, but there were just too many dominant guards. Powell might have underachieved expectations, but he’s still a solid player. Swansey is the best passer in the league, and surprisingly quick on both sides of the ball. He makes an excellent point guard. Yelovich could get looked over by many, for the simple fact that he played in Edwardsville, for a team that wasn’t tournament-eligible, but that shouldn’t overshadow an otherwise solid season.
Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order)
F Ivan Aska (Murray State) 11.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG – Lost 6 games to Injury
G Kris Davis (SIU Edwardsville) 11.7 PPG, 2.5 APG, 2.7 RPG – Outstanding Freshman, amazing shooter (59.8% from 3)
G Jeremy Granger (Eastern Illinois) 15.9 PPG, 3.0 APG, 3.4 RPG, 1.0 SPG – Solid Player, just a good year for guards.
F Alfonzo McKinnie (Eastern Illinois) 10.2 PPG, 7.0 RPG – Just a sophomore, good rebounder.
G Donte Poole (Murray State) 13.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.0 SPG, 1.5 APG – 2nd in OVC in Steals, underrated defender.
Freshman of the Year – Myles Taylor (UT Martin) 13.7 PPG, 5.2 RPG.
I nearly gave this to Kris Davis, but I feel Taylor is a bit more complete, where as Davis is mostly a great shooter. He pulled down solid numbers despite just playing 24.4 minutes a game this year (often to foul trouble) The next step for him is to become a bit more athletic to pull down rebounds and provide more help defensively, but he a rising a star on a team that mighty struggled this season.
Coach of the Year – Steve Prohm (Murray State)
Not much of a debate here. A small case could be made for John Cooper at Tennessee State, but you simply can’t argue with 28-1 in my mind.
OVC Ball Unsung Hero – Mike Liabo (UT Martin) 15.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.6 APG
There are a lot of reason to knock Liabo, given his team’s 0-16 performance in conference play this year, but Liabo was thrown 2 major curveballs: his own injury over the past summer, and the injury to his team’s point guard, forcing Liabo to play a different role this season than he likely expected. He even lost his starting spot 3 games into the season. Yet he persevered, and led the Skyhawks in scoring posting 6 20+ scoring games. All in all, not a bad year personally, given all that he went through.
Teams left off: Morehead State, Jacksonville State
These teams had good years, and did so without a true “star,” a testament to great teamwork.