Ohio Valley: Riley Minix (Morehead State)
Current Averages: 18.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists
Morehead State is currently winning the Ohio Valley Conference and Minix is the overwhelming best player in the league but that wasn’t how it was supposed to be. The guard is a JUCO transfer who was supposed to come in and be a second option but when star Eagle Mark Freeman got hurt before the start of the season, it was time for Minix to shine. The guard is currently shooting over 50% from the floor and 88% from the free throw line. He is a force on the glass and in the paint. He is an offensive rebounding machine getting 3 per game and averaging over a block and steal per game. The Eagles needed Minix to step up after losing their star and he is on another level right now. He dominates games every time he steps on the floor.
Pac 12: KJ Simpson (Colorado)
Current Averages: 19.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists
Let the controversy begin. It is KJ Simpson not Caleb Love who deserves the Player of the Year in the Pac 12 and quite honestly it should not be close. Simpson is, playing at a very high level right now and his shooting numbers have been video-game-like. The point guard is currently shooting 51% from the floor 47% from deep and 90% from the line. He takes over games, especially at home. The point guard has a great supporting cast but doesn’t always need them. He has a 2-1 assist-to-turnover ratio and plays fantastic defense on the perimeter. He has taken huge strides this season on the offensive end and is setting career highs everywhere. Simpson should win the award unanimously but likely won’t because there are going to be some votes for Caleb Love.
Patriot League: Braeden Smith (Colgate)
Current Averages: 13.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists
Smith has some big time competition for the award from Matt Rogers from American. Smith gets the nod because of his ability to impact the game on a greater scale. Smith has had a few games this year where he has scored minimal points but has still impacted the game in multiple ways. He is one of the best defenders in the Patriot League and is a stat sheet stuffer. The sophomore point guard does have games when the Raiders need him to score and he is able to rise to the occasion as well.
Even though he is shooting under 40% from the floor there is not another player in the league who can affect a game like Smith can. One day it might be 25 points, the next night it may be 9 rebounds and 10 assists, the night after it could be 10 steals and 10 assists. You never know how Smith is going to impact a game and that is what makes opposing coaches go crazy because there is no way to game plan how he will impact the game. That alone deserves him Player of the Year.