When you think of some of the best players in the MAC, you don't really think about Aaric Armstead. He didn't make any all-MAC team last season or even earn honorable mention, but that doesn't mean he isn't one of the best players in the conference. Underrated is certainly a word that describes Armstead, and he'll be one of the players to watch out for going into the 2015-2016 basketball season.
The 6-foot-5, 195 pound wing from Chicago lead the team in scoring last season at 11 points per game and returns to campus with two years of eligibility left. Those scoring numbers placed him just outside the top 20 scorers in the conference last season. Because of his proficiency on both ends of the court, Armstead was named the team's MVP and Defensive Player of the Year last year.
Head coach Mark Montgomery has high hopes for Armstead going into the season. At media day, Montgomery said of Armstead, "[He] has a chance to be an all-conference player. He has made big strides with gaining strength and his understanding of the game."
After raising his scoring output over three points from his freshman season, he will look to at least match that increase this season. If he equals his improvement from his freshman-to-sophomore year, he'll average around 15 points and 6 rebounds this year. That puts him around what Karrington Ward averaged at Eastern Michigan last year, and Ward was widely considered to be one of the best players in the conference.
If there is one thing Armstead can do, it's dunk. He won the dunk contest at NIU's Midnight Madness event with these sweet flushes and had one of the best of the year against Toledo last year.
With a younger roster, Montgomery will look look to him for leadership this season. NIU is a team on the rise in the conference, and Armstead will be the one of the leaders that will get them to the top. He'll likely be mentioned for all-MAC teams this season and finally get the respect that he deserves.