With the 2013-14 regular season officially coming to a close on Saturday, and with tonight being Oscars’ night, what better time to hang out some make-believe hardware as I choose this season Blackbirds Hoops Journal’s NEC postseason award winners.
Here are my picks for All-NEC teams, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and NEC Player of the Year.
BHJ’s All-NEC Third Team
Earl Brown (F) – Saint Francis (PA)
Faronte Drakeford (F) – Central Connecticut State
Corey Maynard (G) – Bryant
Kyle Vinales (G) – Central Connecticut State
Ben Mockford (G) – St. Francis Brooklyn
BHJ’s All-NEC Second Team
Jalen Cannon (F) – St. Francis Brooklyn
Kenneth Ortiz (G) – Wagner
Julian Norfleet (G) – Mount St. Mary’s
Rashad Whack (G) – Mount St. Mary’s
Dyami Starks (G) – Bryant
BHJ’s All-NEC First Team
Jason Brickman (G) LIU Brooklyn – Without Brickman, LIU’s season who have likely have been a complete disaster. He is the first player since 1988 to average a double-double in points and assists. He’s the NEC all-time leading assist leader. He is the fourth player ever to reach 1000 career assists. He dished 10 or more assists 18 times this season while shooting 43% from the field and 41% from three. What more can you ask for?! He had a great season and a great career at LIU.
Sidney Sanders Jr. (G) Fairleigh Dickinson – Let’s face it, FDU wouldn’t be in the position they are in this season without Sidney Sanders Jr. He just got beat out for the league leader in scoring and he was fourth in assists. He led the league in steals and was fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio. He has had one of the biggest and probably the most surprising one year turnaround I have seen from any NEC player.
Karvel Anderson (G) Robert Morris – One of the best shooters I ever saw play in the NEC. Finished as the NEC’s top scorer. He is up there was the Shane Gibson’s as one of the NEC’s all-time best shooters. Shooting 51% from a jump shooter guard is remarkable. He made 47% of his threes this season. That is flat out incredible. He could go through periods of doing nothing and flip the switch and take over games with his uncanny shooting. One of my favorite players in the NEC.
Lucky Jones (G/F) Robert Morris – One of the best defender in the NEC this season. He finished fourth in the league in rebounding and eighth in steals. One of the best two way players in the NEC on the top team in the league. He was a great complement to Karvel Anderson all season long.
Alex Francis (F) – Bryant – Had another remarkable season in what had been a stellar four-year career for him. He finished third in the league in scoring and tied with Jalen Cannon for the top spot in the league in rebounding while leading the league in field goal percentage. One of just NEC players with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in his career. He is a monster on the interior for the Bulldogs. Incredibly strong and physical.
BHJ’s NEC Rookie of the Year
De’Von Barnett (F) Sacred Heart – For me, this was a very difficult choice. I could easily see a case for Malik Harmon of Saint Francis (PA). For me, Barnett won out because his numbers was just a hair better than Harmon’s. I gave it to Barnett because his points per 40 minutes was four points better and his offensive efficiency was two points better although he played in seven fewer games.
BHJ’s Most Improved Player
Sidney Sanders Jr. (G) Fairleigh Dickinson – When you improved your scoring average by 15(!) points per game and vastly improve all your numbers across the board, you are easily deserving of this award. Her had one of the best season-to-season individual turnarounds I have ever come across in the NEC in my time following the league. Made himself into a NEC Player of the Year candidate this season and helped guide FDU back in the NEC tournament for the first time four seasons.
Defensive Player of the Year
Lucky Jones (G/F) Robert Morris – He just beats out Kenneth Ortiz for this award. He is a great all-around defender. He can cover guards and forwards. His steal rate is third in the NEC although Ortiz is first. Yet, his rebounding rates are outstanding and has a top 20 block rate. Plays with toughness and heart. He is kind of player any coach would want on his team.
NEC Coach of the Year
Andy Toole – Robert Morris – I think he is the easy choice for this award. Having to deal with adversity with the suspension of four of his players including his top freshman and then playing with just eight players and getting them to buy into the zone defense and having them play top level basketball game after game, he has done an outstanding job for RMU this season. He has done an incredible job getting RMU the top seed this season.
BHJ’s NEC Player of the Year
Karvel Anderson – Robert Morris – I give Karvel Anderson the nod over Bryant’s Alex Francis for the award. Just beat out Sanders Jr. by .4 points to take the NEC scoring title. He had 10 or more points in all but two games this season. He never seems to have an off-night. Scored 20 or more points 13 times this season which is remarkable. He was just flat out the best player I saw in person in the NEC this season.