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Top 25 MAC Basketball Players: #16 Braylon Rayson (G - Central Michigan)

The Man of Many Numbers has gone from a fan favorite in Mt. Pleasant to a legitimate force in the Mid-American Conference.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Braylon Rayson was a force to be reckoned with coming out of West Mesquite High School in the hyper-competitive Dallas market, where he made some state marks from the time he first stepped onto the court, when the Dallas Morning News proclaimed Rayson freshman of the year in 2010. By the end of his career, Rayson would find more accolades, including two MVP honors through the Dallas Morning News (2012 as overall MVP, 2013 as overall/offensive MVP), first-team all-district honors in his junior campaign, and an all-state honorable mention in his senior season. Rayson's efforts led to a McDonald's All-American nomination, after a senior season that saw him lead West Mesquite to 30 wins in the season thanks to a stunning 30.4 points per game mark. Rayson, who stands at 5'9", 190 lbs., committed to the Chippewas in 2012 as a two-star recruit according to 247Sports.

Rayson's impact was felt immediately, as he saw playing time as a true freshman in Keno Davis' first year. In the aftermath of the Ernie Ziegler firing, there were a lot of pieces that normally would have had to sit that ended up getting significant playing time, what with only three players returning. Rayson, then wearing #0, played like anything but. Rayson played in all 32 games, but won the starting job halfway through the season, starting the final 17 games of the season after a great 43-point run in three games in the CMU Tournament. Rayson ended up finishing with 10.7 points per game, 33 steals, 42 assists, and 41 three-pointers (all 3rd best on the team). Rayson also shot 41.2% on field goals, an extremely good mark for a true freshman. Rayson's coming out party was in a 3OT thriller against Ball State, where he scored 30 points, including the final 12, in order to secure the victory.

The next season saw Rayson steadily make improvements, secure as the starting shooting guard. It was clear that the minutes his previous year had done him well, as Rayson scored in double-figures in 16 games and led the Chippewas in scoring six times over the season. Rayson broke the CMU record for free throw percentage with an astounding 89.4% mark, and went perfect in free throws in 14 games. Rayson also showed up for big games, with a 19 point performance on the road at Northwestern on 60% shooting, 27 points on 7-7 free throws in the MAC West clincher vs. Toledo, and 20 points in the NIT game against Louisiana Tech. The key difference for Rayson was a vast improvement in three-point shooting percentage. Rayson was 56-158 (35.4%) from downtown, and averaged 11 points per game on 41.4% shooting. That, combined with his free throw shooting numbers, make Rayson a truly dangerous weapon.

Rayson isn't just an offensive boon; he is also an underrated defensive player. Rayson has plenty of floor hustle and his pressure on the perimeter often results in turnovers. Last season, he scored 30 steals over the season to bring his total to 63. Rayson is also an extremely important rebounder, which is surprising given his size. Rayson scooped up 68 defensive rebounds at 5'9", using his freakish athleticism to outwork forwards and centers a foot or so taller than him.

Rayson is a spark plug piece for Central Michigan, and a perfect fit in Keno Davis' up-tempo, quick shooting offense, with a dynamite shooting stroke and breakneck pace of play. Rayson is often seen sliding on the floor or diving for loose balls and is usually the first one down the court in transition, making him a perfectly natural leader on an extremely young roster. Rayson is only a true junior, but he could be a huge contributor if his numbers continue to trend upwards as they have the last two seasons. Central Michigan had a truly magical run to reach the MAC Championship game last season, and Rayson looks to help a star-studded #3MU squad reach the promised land this season.