We have come to the final installment of our Top 30 players in the Northeast Conference countdown as we look at the what I believe is the top ten players in the conference. You can check out the list of players 30 through 21 by clicking here and the list of players 20 through 11 by clicking here.
10. Lucky Jones – Forward – Junior – Robert Morris (’12-’13 stats: 34 GP/31 starts, 11.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg)
Lucky Jones had a great year last season. He finished second on his team in scoring at 11.6 ppg and first in rebounding at 5.9 rpg. Jones effective field goal percentage last season was close to 55% and he shot over 42% from three. He failed to score in double-digit during NEC play just three times in 18 games. He is a very good free throw shooter at over 82% and he gets to free throw a bunch. Shot 152 free throws last season which ranked him sixth in the NEC. Will be a very integral part of RMU’s success this upcoming season.
9. Rashad Whack – Guard – Senior – Mount St. Mary’s (’12-’13 stats: 32 GP/32 starts, 13.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg)
Talk about finding happiness at a new location. Rashad Whack transferred to the Mount from George Mason and quickly received the playing time he never really got at GMU. Whack took advantage of the green light given to him by head coach Jamion Christian and led the Mount in points scored, steals and field goals made and attempted. Shot 231 three-pointers which was second most in the NEC. Finished second in steals in the NEC under Christian’s Mount Mayhem system. Shot under 40% from the field and from three last season. If he gets those shooting number above 40% this season, he could get himself in the running for NEC leading scorer.
8. Jason Brickman – Guard – Senior – LIU Brooklyn (’12-’13 stats: 34 GP/34 starts, 9.5 ppg, 8.5 apg (led NCAA))
If there was a constant for the Jack Perri and his LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds last season, it was point guard Jason Brickman. Brickman led the NCAA in assists with his 8.5 apg. He finished the season with 11 games of double-digit assists and also recored five double-doubles (points/assists). His effective field goal percentage was an awesome 58.1% last season and he shot over 46% from beyond the arc. Brickman was also one of the ironmen of the NEC playing an exhausting 36.5 mpg, fourteen time his played at least 38 minutes in a game. He was a luxury LIU couldn’t live without. This season, he has an opportunity to rank himself among the best assists men in NCAA history. As a senior now and playing with a lot of new players on the LIU roster, Brickman may have to shoulder some scoring and leadership responsibilities especially with LIU not having All-NEC superstar Julian Boyd during the first half of the season.
7. Latif Rivers – Guard – Senior – Wagner (’12-’13 stats: 20 GP/19 starts, 13.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg)
An All-NEC second teamer two seasons ago, Rivers missed a third of last season due to injury. Upon his return to the lineup in late December it took him a bit to get it going with the exception of 20-point game against LIU. After a month back, he got things going and scored in double-digits in every game for the rest of the season (11 straight games). A three-point threat anytime he has the ball beyond the arc, Rivers shot just under 40% a year ago and did get up 104 three pointers in 20 games. If Rivers stays healthy this season, he will likely win back his spot on the All-NEC team once again. Should still be Wagner’s number one scoring option coming into the season.
6. Dyami Starks – Guard – R-Junior – Bryant (’12-’13 stats: 31 GP/30 starts, 17.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg)
There was no bigger transfer impact than what Dyami Starks had with Bryant last season. After sitting out a year after transferring in from Columbia University, Starks made an immediately impact on a team that went from 2 wins total two seasons ago to 19 total wins last year. He scored in single digits just five times a year ago and dropped 20 or more points 11 times. His effective field goal percentage was 56.1% and shot just over 40% from downtown. He also shot the most threes among all NEC players last season. Expect similar numbers from Starks this season as he is one of the best shooters in the NEC.
5. Julian Boyd – Forward – 6th Yr Senior – LIU Brooklyn (’12-’13 stats: 8 GP/8 starts, 18.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg)
Under normal circumstances, it would be a given to call Julian Boyd the best player in the NEC. But unfortunately, this isn’t normal circumstances. Boyd will attempt to comeback from two ACL injuries which happened seven months apart. Before the first ACL tear last December, Boyd was looking primed to repeat as NEC Player of the Year. Now, it will be amazing to see Boyd take the court at all at any point this season. It is the hope of Boyd and everyone at LIU to see Boyd return back to the court when NEC play begins in January. Even if Boyd returns at 75% of his former self, that will still make him one of the best players in the NEC. If he comes back and plays at a high level, not only would it be one of the most remarkable stories in the NEC, it would be one of the most remarkable stories in all of college basketball. Jack Perri and the Blackbirds could definitely use his experience, leadership and production this season with LIU having just six players returning who played last season.
4. Karvel Anderson – Guard – Senior – Robert Morris (’12-’13 stats: 33 GP/10 starts, 12.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 47.5 FG%, 61.1 eFG%)
This is just my opinion but I believe now with the graduation of Shane Gibson at Sacred Heart, that Karvel Anderson now becomes the best shooter in the NEC. Anderson shot an effective field goal percentage of 61.1% which was second behind LIU’s Booker Hucks among NEC players who made at least one three-pointer last season. He shot close to 44% from three last year on 187 three-point attempts. By the way, he played part of the season with a broken wrist in his shooting hand making his numbers even more impressive. Anderson should be moving to the starting lineup this season after the transfer of Coron Williams to Wake Forest. If his wrist has fully recovered, it is going to be bad news for team watching him take three-pointers this season because he is going to make a whole lot of them.
3. Alex Francis – Forward – Senior – Bryant (’12-13 stats: 31 GP/31 starts, 17.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg)
Alex Francis will likely go out as Bryant’s best player of all-time. The 6’6″ forward has been a model of production and consistency since he first stepped on the court for head coach Tim O’Shea and the Bulldogs. He has a 16.4 career ppg average coming into his senior year and will likely finish his college career as a 2000 point scorer. Francis had ten double-doubles last season and had a 26 point and 18 rebound game versus CCSU. Scored in single figures just twice and fouled out of a game just one time for the entire season. He shot close to 57% from the floor last season and will once again be in the running for NEC Player of the Year.
2. Jalen Cannon – Forward – Junior – St. Francis Brooklyn (’12-’13 stats: 30 GP/29 starts, 14.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg)
For two-thirds of the season last year, Jalen Cannon was the front runner for NEC Player of the Year. By February, he had already ten double-doubles, eight games over scoring 20 or more points, eleven games of double-digit rebounds and had SFC in position for a NEC top four push. Cannon though ran out of some gas in the last month of the season. He had zero double-double in last four weeks of the season and got passed by LIU’s Jamal Olasewere for NEC Player of the Year honors. This season, Cannon will be among the early favorites for NEC Player of the Year. A workhorse on the boards already from his freshman season, Cannon took his offensive game to a new level his sophomore year, now as a junior I wouldn’t be shocked if he averaged 17 ppg and 9 rpg this season.
1. Kyle Vinales – Guard – Junior – Central Connecticut State (’12-’13 stats: 30 GP/30 starts, 21.6 ppg, 3.8 apg)
There aren’t too many better scorers in the nation than CCSU’s Kyle Vinales. The 6’1″ combo guard is just a scoring machine. He had an interesting off-season this summer, first deciding to transfer to play at a school with a better chance of him playing in the NCAA tournament. Then deciding on playing for Toledo and then changing his mind the next day and then eventually returning back to head coach Howie Dickenman and CCSU. He did the smart thing in returning to CCSU. No one has a bigger green light to shoot than Vinales does. He was NEC’s leading scorer last season. He took 557 shots last season and 219 of those were threes. Even with the high volume of shots, Vinales made over 41% of them while shooting 36.5% from three. Vinales was also the ironman of college basketball playing an incredible 38.2 mpg last season finishing tied for second in the nation. The return of Vinales to the CCSU roster this season with a couple of nice additions by Coach Dickenman could make CCSU an interesting team to look out for this upcoming season.