A10 Player of the Year Watch, 2018 Edition 1

Welcome! We’re going to keep tabs on the A10 Player of the Year race (and maybe some of the other all-conference races) every Friday here through the rest of the season, unless, you know, we don’t. Per usual, this entry will have a bunch of numbers and random stuff. A couple other things you should know:

  • Numbers listed are for the whole season, but we’ll give some preference to conference numbers.
  • The criteria for rankings is mostly in my head, but I’ll heavily favor a combination of efficiency, workload, and defensive production. I reserve the right to say “trust me, this guy’s a good defender” when the numbers don’t necessarily show it.
  • I’ve got some stat quirks. I like points per field goal attempt (PPFGA) better than true shooting % or effective field goal %. It’s much easier to understand and cuts right to the heart of the matter – how many points does the guy produce every time he uses a shot attempt? You can argue this is more important than any other measure of shooting. I’ll mention other shooting percentages if they’re interesting or illustrative, but PPFGA is a great way to roll everything you want to know into one number.
  • Asterisk equals all-rookie team.

As usual, thanks to College Basketball Reference, hoop-math, and kenpom for the data. Here we go.

First Team

Jared Terrell, Rhode Island

18.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.7 steals

23.8 PER, 25.2% USG, 1.43 PPFGA

Terrell has been Rhody’s best guard for all 18 games this season. Yes, all of their guards are good, but Terrell shoulders the scoring and creating load for that backcourt. The best player on the best team is generally a decent bet for A10 Player of the Year when there are no runaway candidates. Right now, that’s Terrell. In case you’re wondering, EC Matthews simply isn’t in the conversation at this point since he’s only played 12 games and is averaging 26 minutes in those games (more on him later). Terrell’s stat line stands on its own.

Peyton Aldridge, Davidson

20.1 points, 7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.5 blocks

22.8 PER, 28.8% USG, 1.25 PPFGA

He’s regressed from last year’s crazy good efficiency numbers while getting used to the go-to guy role. He still scores a lot, scores efficiently, and fills up the box score, so he’s well within striking distance with a strong finish.

Justin Tillman, VCU

18.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.7 blocks

28.1 PER, 26.2% USG, 1.42 PPFGA

Total package on both ends of the floor. Block totals aren’t gaudy but he’s a very solid post defender. Known as a low-post banger, added a three-ball to his arsenal this year that has made him particularly dangerous. In the context of th Player of the Year race, the knock on him is that points, rebounds, and efficiency are good, but other box score contributions are almost nonexistent. This column will favor players that fill up the box score.

Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure

18.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.2 steals

21.3 PER, 25.3% USG, 1.59 PPFGA

Jaylen Adams was my favorite to win this award coming into the year, but Bona’s disappointing season likely has something to do with Adams’ across-the-board dip in assists, steals, usage, and PER. He’s on the fringe of the first tier, but his scoring efficiency can’t be ignored.

Josh Cunningham, Dayton

16.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.6 blocks

26.4 PER, 23.5% USG, 1.73 PPFGA

Cunningham’s scoring efficiency reflects what I feel when I watch Dayton play – not many players can stop this dude on the block. Despite being bizarrely underutilized, he’s still one of the A10’s best players.

Second Team

BJ Johnson, La Salle

21.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 1.6 steals

24 PER, 33% USG, 1.23 PPFGA

BJ Johnson is a very good player who gets hurt a little bit here by the fact that La Salle is underwhelming. Fair or not, whether or not he moves up the rankings depends on if La Salle gets any better.

Luwane Pipkins, UMass

20 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.5 steals

20.2 PER, 32.6% USG, 1.26 PPFGA

Pipkins has been a revelation for UMass this season, and in conference he’s averaging almost 23 points per game (dropping 44 on La Salle helped). He hasn’t scored fewer than 13 points since November. His scoring efficiency keeps him out of the top tier but it’s largely mitigated by that workload.

Matt Mobley, St. Bonaventure

17.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.4 steals

18.2 PER, 24.3% USG, 1.37 PPFGA

Jon Axel Gudmundsson, Davidson

14.9 points, 6 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.4 steals

22.4 PER, 21.9% USG, 1.42 PPFGA

Fantastically well-rounded player. One of the most compelling combinations of efficiency and box score production in the A10.

Shavar Newkirk, St. Joseph’s

17.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.6 steals

19.9 PER, 27.9% USG, 1.21 PPFGA

Coming off ACL surgery, he’s very solid but not quite to the level he was playing before getting injured after 12 games last year.

Third Team

James Demery, St. Joseph’s

18.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.2 steals

19.7 PER, 25.6% USG, 1.24 PPFGA

Has a legitimate argument for being St. Joe’s best player this season, as he’s neck-and-neck with Newkirk. He’s on my A10 all-underrated team.

Otis Livingston, George Mason

15.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 0.9 steals

16.7 PER, 24.5% USG, 1.25 PPFGA

Shoulders the scoring load for a Mason team that lacks bucket-getters. Was playing like a legitimate A10 Player of the Year candidate through the first five games of the conference schedule. Came crashing down to earth against GW and Duquesne this past week. Capable of moving into the second tier but will have to play at his ceiling to do so.

Yuta Watanabe, George Washington

14.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.5 blocks

17.4 PER, 22.4% USG, 1.17 PPFGA

Efficiency numbers make him look out of place on this list but he is an absolutely destructive defensive presence. 6’8” and can guard all five positions – held Mason’s Otis Livingston, a 5’11” point guard, to his worst game of the season last week.

*Grant Golden, Richmond

15.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.4 blocks

19.9 PER, 29.1% USG, 1.21 PPFGA

Golden inherited TJ Cline’s role in Chris Mooney’s offense, and Richmond basically runs through him, thus the high usage rate. Though he’s not nearly as polished as Cline yet, Golden is only a freshman, and he’s not glued to the floor, contributing defensively in ways that Cline never did.

*Eric Williams Jr, Duquesne

15.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.4 steals

22.7 PER, 23.2% USG, 1.36 PPFGA

34 points and 25 points in his last two games. May cool off and fall off the list, but he’s had a very impressive rookie reason.

Honorable Mention

Pookie Powell, La Salle

Darrell Davis, Dayton

EC Matthews, Rhode Island

  • 13.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, less than one assist, steal or block per game, 17.9 PER, and he’s missed eight games. I know he’s a great player, but he’s not particularly close to meeting performance thresholds that lead to all-conference teams. If he makes it with numbers like this it’ll be on reputation.

Jaire Grayer, George Mason

Mike Lewis II, Duquesne

Javon Bess, St. Louis

All Defensive Team

Throwing out some guesses since I’ve done significantly less research on this:

Hasahn French, SLU

Yuta Watanabe, GW

Stan Robinson, URI

*Jordan Goodwin, SLU

*Tydus Verhoeven, Duquesne

Honorable Mention:

Ladarien Griffin, SBU

Jared Terrell, URI

Coach of the Year

Chris Mooney has a strong case after turning a 2-10 out of conference schedule into a surprising 5-3 A10 start.

Just kidding. I wrote that to make the Richmond fans black out with rage. It’s either Danny Hurley or Keith Dambrot. Lock it up, rub it down.

Thanks for dropping by! Come back next week for an updated list.

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