Sun Belt: Terrence Edwards Jr. (James Madison)
Terrence Edwards Jr. (James Madison)
Current Averages: 17.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists
It looked like the Dukes were going to run away and hide in the Sun Belt especially after they beat Michigan State, even though James Madison has not played as well over the last month the Dukes star player has been putting up huge numbers. His shooting numbers are down across the board, but he has made up for it by becoming a better rebounder and facilitator. The Sun Belt is loaded with talent and this race is going to be close especially as we hit the stretch run of the season, but Edwards has been the most consistent player in the league all year and often he relied on to score most of the points in the offense and as a volume shooter may not always have the best games. He is still the guy that coaches fear the most to go off and change a game.
SWAC: Ken Evans Jr. (Jackson State)
Current Averages: 19.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists
I waivered back and forth on who to pick to win this award and it was between Evans and Tai’Reon Joseph of Southern. Evans is having a much better year and provides way more impact on the game than Joseph. Joseph is a great scorer but Evans is the type of guy that doesn’t have to score to make an impact. Evans was not supposed to be the go-to guy for Jackson State that was supposed to be DeShun Ruffin, but Ruffin was hurt in the preseason and it then became Evans's team. He has filled in perfectly. He currently is shooting 43% from the floor and 43% from three. Those are the highest numbers of his career. Leading the team has led Evans to pick up his rebounding and assist per-game average. He has been a huge asset to Jackson State and is the best overall player in the SWAC.
Summit League: Tommy Bruner (Denver)
Current Averages: 25.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists
I would hope the NCAA leading scorer would earn the Player of the Year in his conference. Bruner is that guy, he is the best scorer in the country and he is also doing it with the highest volume. He already has a 49-point game in the conference and has turned Denver into a legitimate threat in the Summit League. The Pioneers have never had a player the caliber of Bruner and his ability to change games.
Even with the extreme volume of shots that the guard is taking he is having the most efficient year of his career. He is currently shooting 43% from the floor and almost 40% from beyond the three-point line. Bruner touches the ball every time down the floor and it usually ends up in a shot for Denver. He is carrying this team and they are going to go as far as Bruner takes them. They have 13 wins which should be enough to unanimously win the award in the Summit League.
West Coast: Jonathan Mogbo (San Francisco)
Current Averages: 15.3 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists
I know it looks weird to not see a player from Gonzaga or Saint Mary’s as the Player of the Year in the WCC, but don’t overthink it. Mogbo is dominant and consistently puts up huge numbers against everyone in the league. The big man is a transfer into the conference from Missouri State and since he has been on the Hilltop he has turned the Dons into a contender in the West Coast Conference.
San Francisco runs offense through the big man and he is a great passer from the elbow to get easy back screens, he also can pass out of any double team and I haven’t even mentioned that he is shooting 70% from the floor. He doesn’t shoot threes and he does all of his damage in the paint. Mogbo is an explosive athlete who throws down highlight-reel dunks and will out-rebound anyone in the league with ease. He may not play for the two premier programs in the West Coast Conference but he is the best player in the league by a wide margin.
WAC: Gabe McGlothan (Grand Canyon)
Current Averages: 15.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists
Grand Canyon is likely going to get an at-large into the NCAA tournament if they don’t win the WAC tournament and the Lopes have four guys who could reasonably win the Player of the Year award and no one would notice anything different. When the chips are down though and head coach Bryce Drew needs a basket he is going to go to McGlothan. The senior is going through the best offensive season of his career.
He has been efficient inside the three-point arc but this year the forward has turned into one of the better three-point shooters in the country. He has also improved tremendously on the defensive end and is a complete player. McGlothan makes every play he is supposed to and is a coach's dream. McGlothan’s biggest competition for this award comes from his own teammates.