2015-16 Northeast Conference Men’s Basketball Awards Predictions

Another great season of college basketball is about to unfurl as we creep towards Halloween and November which means it’s time to start making predictions for the upcoming 2015-16 Northeast Conference season.

This season, only four of the fifteen players who were named on the three All-NEC teams last season return back as well as just one of the four individual player award winners. This opens up room for some new, young and up-and-coming stars in the conference to begin getting the opportunity for recognition in a league which seems to be once again wide open.

Now, it is time to unveil the Blackbirds Hoops Journal’s prediction for the 2015-16 NEC awards beginning with the All-NEC Rookie Team.

All-NEC Rookie Team Predictions

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Isaiah Still – Guard – Robert Morris
Quincy McKnight – Guard – Sacred Heart
Julius van Sauers – Forward – LIU Brooklyn
Joe Hugley – Forward – Robert Morris
Chris Manning – Forward – Mount St. Mary’s

Obviously, choosing five freshmen for an all-NEC rookie team relatively sight unseen, is not an easy process. My picks here are going on what I’ve heard about these guys coming into the season as well as possible opportunities these players could likely see during the season. I expect these five guys to be among the high impact freshmen in the NEC this season.

All-NEC Third Team Predictions

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Darian Anderson – So., Guard – FDU
Joel Hernandez – Jr., Guard – LIU Brooklyn
Ronnie Drinnon – Sr., Forward – St. Francis U.
Brandon Peel – Sr., Forward – Central Connecticut
Amdy Fall – Sr., Forward – St. Francis Brooklyn*
Tyreek Jewell – Sr., Guard – St. Francis Brooklyn

Two players who I believe are going to really flourish this season are Anderson and Hernandez. Anderson had a very solid freshman season at FDU and returns as their top returning scorer. Hernandez’s likely move into LIU’s starting lineup should give him career-high averages across the board. Drinnon now moves to SFU’s top interior threat with the departure of Earl Brown. Peel is probably one of the most underrated players in the NEC.

All-NEC Second Team Predictions

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Martin Hermannsson – So., Guard – LIU Brooklyn
Malik Harmon – Jr., Guard – St. Francis U.
Kavon Stewart – Jr., Guard – Robert Morris
De’von Barnett – Jr., Forward – Sacred Heart*
Jerome Frink – R-Jr., Forward – LIU Brooklyn
Amdy Fall – Sr., Forward – St. Francis Brooklyn*

Hermannsson’s numbers will likely see a significant jump in year two at LIU. Harmon and Stewart are probably the two best point guards in the NEC this season, at least going in. I’ll be surprised if Frink doesn’t drive NEC coaches and opponents crazy with inside presence and rebounding. Fall is a defensive stalwart who could likely get an opportunity to produce on the offensive end as well with no Jalen Cannon around.

(*Editor’s Note: Originally, I had SFBK’s Amdy Fall on the third team and SHU’s De’von Barnett on the second team but I was made aware that Barnett won’t play this season due to a labrum surgery he had in June [Thanks to Big Apple Buckets’ Ryan Peters for the assist]. So I moved Fall up to the second team and added SFBK’s Tyreek Jewell to the third team. There will be no edits to original photo collages.) 

All-NEC First Team Predictions

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Rodney Pryor – Sr., Guard – Robert Morris
Byron Ashe – Jr., Guard – Mount St. Mary’s
Cane Broome – So., Guard – Sacred Heart
Dan Garvin – Jr., Forward – Bryant
Gregory Graves – Sr., Forward – Mount St. Mary’s

Pryor is coming off a great junior year where he was their leading scorer and with no Marcquise Reed this season, he should see a lot more shots. Ashe could likely be the best player on a pretty loaded Mount St. Mary’s team. He is going to fire up a lot of shots this season. Broome, for me, is the best shooter in the NEC coming in. He definitely could have been NEC Rookie of the Year last season. Garvin is one of the top returning rebounders in the NEC and should be one of Bryant’s go-to scorers this season with no Dyami Starks around. Graves could be a potential double-double machine coming into his senior season.

NEC Rookie of the Year

Quincy McKnight – Fr., Guard – Sacred Heart

McKnight should see a lot of playing time at the point guard position for Sacred Heart to continue to allow Cane Broome to play more off the ball. If he is not starting at the start of the season, he should be by season’s end. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t lead all NEC freshmen in minutes played.

NEC Most Improved Player of the Year

Joel Hernandez – Jr., Guard – LIU Brooklyn

I believe this is going to be Hernandez’s breakthrough season after coming off the bench the majority of his first two seasons. Hernandez should flourish as a full-time starter. He can score, he can rebound, and he isn’t afraid of contact. He should be a big-time impact player for LIU this season.

NEC Defensive Player of the Year

Amdy Fall – Sr., Forward – St. Francis Brooklyn

Fall will likely be once again the hands down winner for this award. He is easily the best shot blocker in the NEC and will now have the room to grab more rebounds for the Terriers without Jalen Cannon occupying space.

NEC Coach of the Year

Jamion Christian – Mount St. Mary’s

Christian has seen nothing but success since his arrival at the Mount three seasons ago and that is not likely to change this season. It would be an upset if his Mount team is not in the top two of the NEC standings at the end of the season. Christian’s team has yet to finish below .500 overall or in the NEC since his arrival.

NEC Player of the Year

Rodney Pryor – Sr., Guard – Robert Morris

He has been the consensus pick for this award and I happen to agree as well. Pryor should be Robert Morris’ top scorer once again this season. He is likely going to get more shot opportunities this season and if he equals his shooting numbers of last season (48% FG, 43% from three), he is going to take this award in a runaway.

(Photo Credits: Bob Dea for Blackbirds Hoops Journal & Patch.com, bigapplebuckets.com, CCSU Athletics, RMU Athletics, Mount St. Mary’s Athletics, LIU Brooklyn Athletics, St. Francis Brooklyn Athletics, Sacred Heart Athletics, and Bryant Athletics)

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