Welcome! We’re going to keep tabs on the A10 Player of the Year race every Friday here through the rest of the season. Per usual, this entry will have a bunch of numbers and random stuff. A couple other things you should know:
- I’m looking at conference play numbers only.
- The criteria for rankings is mostly in my head, but I’ll heavily favor a combination of efficiency, workload, and defensive production.
- 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.
- The purpose here isn’t to monitor who I think will win. It’s to monitor who I think should If it looks different than consensus, that’s good!
As usual, thanks to college basketball reference for the data. Here we go. Remember, numbers and analysis based off conference games only:
IN THE LEAD: Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure
18.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 2.4 steals, 0 blocks
23.7 PER, 28% USG, 1.49 PPFGA
Jaylen Adams checks a lot of traditional player of the year boxes – he’s the best two-way player on a good team, he’s a point guard who’s getting NBA looks, and he’s a very legitimate defender. He’s only shooting 41.2% from the field in conference, but he’s getting to the line almost 8 times per game and hitting about 75%, which greatly boosts his PPFGA number. He actually takes more threes per game (7.1) than shots inside the arc (5.6), which makes his ability to get to the line even more impressive. For as well as he’s playing on offense, it’s his contributions on defense that have him at the top of the rankings. His 2.4 steals per game lead the rest of the POY candidate field by a wide margin.
NIPPING AT HIS HEELS: TJ Cline, Richmond
19.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.2 blocks per game
26.2 PER, 29.2% USG, 1.39 PPFGA
TJ Cline is a fantastically skilled offensive player, and the numbers he’s putting up are huge. As a point of reference, Deandre Bembry won A10 POY last year with 17.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.3 steals per game, and a PER of 22.6. Now, these numbers are boosted by Cline’s massive triple-double outing against Duquesne, so it’s likely that he comes back to earth a little bit. But Player of the Year is an award for stat accumulators, and no one in the conversation is filling up the box score like Cline right now. His efficiency numbers are also excellent, which shows he’s not just piling up numbers on volume. He’s relegated to the second spot because he gives the Spiders next to nothing for paint protection – he’s a big traffic cone on defense, and his inability to block shots reflects that. Yes, I’m basing that off nothing but his block numbers and the one game I watched him play against Mason. My rankings, my rules.
ALSO NIPPING AT HIS HEELS: Peyton Aldridge, Davidson
22.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.9 blocks
29.5 PER, 26% USG, 1.49 PPFGA
Aldridge over Gibbs might be a surprise but look at those numbers again. It’s weird to think that those numbers aren’t even top two, but that’s how good the A10 POY race is right now. Peyton has been absolutely bananas in conference, and he’s making big contributions on both ends of the floor. He’s also playing 38 minutes per game (highest of anyone on the list) and hitting an insane 46% from three on 5.6 attempts per game. What’s holding him back is the fact that Gibbs has higher usage – it’s tough to call someone the A10 Player of the Year when they’re not the most prolific offensive player on their own team. However, his total box score and crazy high efficiency have more than earned him the third spot at this point.
STILL IN THE RACE: Marquise Moore, George Mason
16.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks per game
22.1 PER, 28.1% USG, 1.29 PPFGA
Marquise Moore is one of the more intriguing stories in the country, and he might be one of the most unique college basketball players in decades. As a 6’2” guard, he’s 17th in the nation in rebounding. There are no other guards in the top 30. He doesn’t shoot threes – 1 for 3 in conference – due to a totally broken jump shot that has never been adequately explained. But his bread and butter is getting into the paint, and teams have trouble stopping him. Like Cline, he has a triple-double to his credit this season, but it was against Penn in the Palestra and thus doesn’t count for these rankings. Marquise is up here because of his defensive ability and the workload he’s shouldering for a Mason team that struggles to score when he goes to the bench. He’s slowed offensively in the last three games, which is reflected in his declining efficiency numbers. But if he strings a few big games together he could move up the rankings easily. His rebounding ability is more than cosmetic – Mason runs a small four-guard lineup and needs every one of those boards.
DARK HORSE: Kendall Pollard, Dayton
14.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.2 blocks
23.6 PER, 27.6% USG, 1.6 PPFGA
Pollard’s numbers aren’t eye-popping but he’s been very efficient, and his 2.5 steals + blocks per game are no joke. Dayton is 15th in the country and first in the A10 in defensive rating, allowing 91.9 points per 100 possessions. Pollard’s contributions on that end need to be considered. He doesn’t have the raw box score contributions you expect to see in a player of the year winner, but he’s worked his way into the conversation.
NOT DEAD YET (not necessarily in order):
Jack Gibbs, Davidson
20.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.2 steals, 0 blocks
22.9 PER, 28.8% USG, 1.3 PPFGA
Jack Gibbs is putting together another great season in a great career, but for the purposes of POY evaluation, he’s not contributing quite as much as the guys ahead of him.
Justin Tillman, VCU
15.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.6 blocks
28 PER, 24.1% USG, 1.4 PPFGA
Tillman’s progress this year has been a pleasant surprise for VCU. His box score contributions are limited to points and rebounds, but he’s a player to watch.
Charles Cooke, Dayton
14 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.9 blocks per game
18.1 PER, 28.5% USG, 1.27 PPFGA
Tyler Cavanaugh, George Washington
15.7 points, 7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.3 blocks
19.8 PER, 29.1 USG%, 1.34 PPFGA
ON THE WATCH LIST:
Matt Mobley, St. Bonaventure
Hassan Martin, Rhode Island
Jordan Price, La Salle
Shawn’Dre Jones, Richmond
Check back next Friday for an update.