SPECIAL EDITION - INDIVIDUAL HONORS FOR PRE-CONFERENCE PLAY
Let’s have a look at the non-conference all-stars from each MAC team. For each team i’ve selected the one player who really stood out to me and given that person a few sentences. Any other players who could have earned mention are noted as ‘honorable mention.’ The overall standard here is folks who are good enough to be on a ‘watch list’ for all-conference honors at the end of the season. Therefore, at the very end, i’ve compiled mid-year all-conference teams.
Justin Turner, G, Bowling Green - the freshman opened with a splash with 33 against Drexel, then followed with a crash in game 2, with 6 points on 2-14 shooting against South Dakota (and 5 fouls to boot). He has leveled out and is now the team’s leading scorer with 17.4 ppg. Throw in almost 4 rebounds and 3 assists per game and you’ve got a breakout star for an over-achieving team.
Honorable mention: F Demajeo Wiggins
Daniel Utomi, F, Akron - the sophomore leads Akron in both scoring (18.9) and rebounding (6.7). He didn’t have a good first two games in Hawaii, but his overall averages in the losses (which for Akron is the same as the road games) are still 16 & 6. In fact, he’s scored in double digits in every game this season.
Honorable mention: G Jimond Ivey
Tayler Persons, G, Ball State - the junior is the best player on one of the best teams in conference, and if nothing else, the game-winning shots against Notre Dame and Valparaiso would get him consideration. His scoring is unchanged from last year at 15.6 ppg, and actually his assists and rebounds are down minimally. I think this is a reflection of Ball State’s depth - he averages only 28 minutes per game, down a shade from last year. But when you’re a top scorer from the guard position who shoots over 50%, you’re doing your job while you’re in there.
Honorable mention: none. Tremendous team depth and spread-out playing time means nobody else with statistics even close to catching the eye at this point, despite the fact that there are some ‘name-brand’ players on the team.
CJ Massinburg, G, Buffalo - the junior guard is the leading scorer (19.5) and rebounder (7.8) for the bulls. Those rebounds interest me - he’s not a big guy at just 6’3", and this team has no shortage of big bodies. With 977 career points scored before the NJIT game, he is poised to become just the 19th 1000 point scorer in Buffalo history. By the way, the only player on that list from the recent era is Javon McCrea, at #1.
Honorable mentions: F Nick Perkins, and if this is at least partially a ‘watch list’ for all-MAC in conference play, G Wes Clark
Cecil Williams, F, Central Michigan - surprised? Me too. The senior forward (and JuCo transfer) leads the team in scoring (14.8), and is second in both rebounds (6.9) and assists (3.1). All this and he’s actually been improving, averaging 19, 8, and 3 in their last 4 D-1 games.
Honorable mentions: G Shawn Roundtree, F David DiLeo
James Thompson IV, F, Eastern Michigan - he was all-conference last year, so what’s happened so far this season? Improvements in points, rebounds, steals, blocks, and field goal percentage. His scoring (17.3) is pretty good, but that rebound average of 12.1 is staggering. If there’s a complaint it’s that his free throw shooting has taken a nasty turn and is currently a whisker under 60%. That’s got late-game liability written all over it, but there are others who can fill that role. And by the way, this kid has a chance to achieve some huge team and MAC milestones in his career. We’re not even at conference play in his junior year, and he’s an 1100+ point scorer (good for 24th in team history) and already 6th in team history in rebounds.
Honorable mentions: F Elijah Minnie, G Paul Jackson
Nobody, any position, Kent State - nobody deserves consideration for all-MAC at this point. While Jaylin Walker is scoring well, the rest of his peripherals and his shooting percentage are not at a star level (8-27 in the Albany loss, e.g.).
Honorable mention: G Jaylin Walker, F Adonis DeLaRosa
Nobody, any position, Miami - not that this team is especially bad, they just spread the minutes and stats around.
Honorable mention: G Darrian Ringo, F Logan McLane
Eugene German, G, Northern Illinois - the sophomore averages over 19 ppg, which by itself will put him on the list. It’s nice that he does it while shooting 47% from the field. But not much to speak of in the peripherals, so he’s definitely not a first-teamer for me, and he’ll have to score quite a lot to even stay on a second team list.
Honorable mention: G Levi Bradley
Teyvion Kirk, G, Ohio - the freshman gets the edge over his talented backcourt mates. Part of it is because he’s a freshman and I like to feature the up-and-comers. Kirk is third on his team in scoring (14.4), but he’s less than 2 points off the lead. As opposed to the top two guys (both honorable mentions, below), though, Kirk is second in rebounds and tied for tops in assists.
Honorable mention: G Mike Laster, G Jordan Dartis
Tre’Shaun Fletcher, G, Toledo - so far the senior transfer from Colorado has lived up to major conference billing. There are some potential warning signs: his shooting percentage is only 41% from the field, though that’s better than 2 of his 3 seasons with the Buffaloes. Also he had two weaker statistical games in the wins over Cleveland State and Jackson State - his minutes were limited and i think that’s because they won so comfortably. But there’s not too many ways to put a bad spin on 17 points and 9 assists per game. And don’t forget: like Tayler Persons, Fletcher also has two game winning shots on the year - imagine where Toledo would be without them.
Honorable mention: G Jaelan Sanford, F Luke Knapke, F Nate Navigato
Thomas Wilder, G, Western Michigan - it’s been a fairly quiet pre-conference season for the guy who probably was the preseason pick for player of the year. He’s averaging 19 points, 4 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and over 2 steals per game. He’s actually improved his shooting to over 47% from the field. So why maybe a little less attention? Well, the slight underperformance of the team hasn’t helped. Also while the scoring average is still high, Wilder actually has 16 or fewer points in 6 of the last 8 games.
Honorable mention: none.
Adding that all together, i present the first annual all-MAC non-conference teams. Note: players designated with ** were voted to either the East or West Division Preseason all-MAC teams in the writers’ poll.
TOM’S FIRST TEAM ALL-MAC NON-CONFERENCE
G Thomas Wilder **
G Tayler Persons **
G Tre’Shaun Fletcher
F James Thompson IV **
F Cecil Williams
TOM’S SECOND TEAM ALL-MAC NON-CONFERENCE
G Jaelan Sanford **
G CJ Massinburg **
F Daniel Utomi
TOM’S THIRD TEAM ALL-MAC NON-CONFERENCE
G Teyvion Kirk
F Nick Perkins **
F David DiLeo
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