Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?
Think back to late October. Atlantic 10 Media Day had just passed us by. Predictions were made, awards were issued and all that awaited fans and critics alike was the season’s opening tip for 16 A10 squads.
A mere game or two into the second half of conference play, did you have preseason favorite St. Joe’s sitting at 4-5? Did you have LaSalle taking down not just VCU, but Butler as well, in back-to-back games no less? Did you have Charlotte winning 12 of 14 games in the non conference, only to continue to hang tough against the big dogs in the A10?
If so, well then kudos to you.
Either way, whatever you had in ink really doesn’t matter at this point. All that matters is what’s happened since those days in late October and now, Valentine’s Day upon us in mid-February, and what players have ensured said story lines to evolve.
That said, as the girls sit back and await their chocolates and flowers, let’s take a moment to award the guys, five players who, by my estimation, have the best chance to win A10 Player of the Year.
Finally, cupid will give man reason to be excited in the middle of February… These five anyway.
Rotnei Clarke – Butler
Brad Stevens knew he had a player in Arkansas transfer Clarke. After his less-than-smooth departure from the
Rotnei Clarke has fit in just fine in Butler after a rocky departure from Arkansas. (Credit: John Fetcho)
SEC, however, in which the sharpshooter claimed to be denied release, only to see teammates depart in front of his own eyes after a coaching change, his own family members seeking outside interest on his behalf in the meantime, nobody was too sure just how much of a player had arrived in Indianapolis. Turns out a fresh start was exactly what Clarke needed. The senior has had a tremendous impact to this point, leading a top-10 caliber Butler team in scoring at nearly 17 a game. On the shoulders of Clarke’s 43% efficiency from long range, the Bulldogs have improved from a subpar 62.6 points per game a season ago to a very respectable 70.9 ppg this year.
Khalif Wyatt – Temple
While the Owls have been inconsistent at best since the start of the new year, preseason Player of the Year Wyatt has far from disappointed. In his sophomore campaign, Wyatt earned A10 Sixth Man of the Year Award honors, before earning a rightful spot on the A10′s All-Second Team a season ago. This year, the Norristown, PA native’s game has continued to develop, as he currently leads the conference in scoring at nearly 19 points a game. While a sub-43% mark from the field and an average of three turnovers a game doesn’t exactly impress at first glance, understand that Wyatt has had to take on a brunt of the offensive responsibilities because of a lack of help on that end of the floor. Despite an average supporting cast, Wyatt adds a shade under four assists a game while hitting on better than one of three from long range.
Juvonte Reddic – VCU
To me, the best player on one of the conference’s best teams. A preseason All A10 First Team selection, Reddic has developed nicely since a promising sophomore campaign a season ago and is more than deserving of recognition as one of the conference’s best players. At 14.3/8.1 per game, Reddic is one of about five or six guys in the A10 who legitimately flirts with a double-double night in and night out. And while fitting into an uptempo type team that rightfully so claims to wreak havoc on a nightly basis is never an easy task for a big man, Reddic has more than held his own, adding 1.4 steals a game, good enough for 14th in the A10. At 6-9, 235, Reddic’s 56.7% from the field falls a mere percentage point and change behind only Charlotte’s Willie Clayton for best in the conference.
Despite the injury to Jesse Morgan, Chaz Williams’ game has yet to take a hit and he’s got his Minutemen right in the thick of things in the A10. (Credit: Thom Kendall Photography/University of Massachusetts Media Relations)
Chaz Williams – Massachusetts
Perhaps the most intriguing player in the Atlantic 10, Williams does more with less than anybody we’ve seen in quite some time. Listed at 5-9, which may actually be generous if you can believe it, Williams is sort of like the human energizer bunny. He plays 36 minutes a game and contributes in a variety of different ways. He’s a rare combination of volume shooter and excellent facilitator — not necessarily an ideal combination for a point guard but head coach Derek Kellogg will take it all the same. His better than 16 points a game is good enough for fifth in the A10 and his 7.1 dimes per contest is far and away tops in the league. Offensive production aside, Williams frustrates opposing point guards night in and night out on the other end of the floor, his 2.0 steals a game good enough for seventh in the conference.
Ramon Galloway – LaSalle
Galloway is perhaps the conference’s best all-around player who far too few people know about. He’s the best guard on a team that boasts one of the conference’s best backcourts. He is one of only two seniors — the only one in the rotation — on a LaSalle team that at 16-6, 6-3 has surprised many, proving to be both a leader on and off the court. His 17.1 points and 3.4 dimes per game is welcomed by head coach Dr. John Giannini, but what’s really impressive is his 2.3 steals a game, good enough for fourth in the A10, as Galloway is more often than not called upon to defend the opponent’s best player. He’s money from downtown (41.6%) and is dependable at the stripe (80.5%) as well. Perhaps above all else, he’s demonstrated the all important clutch gene time and time again, as his game-winning drive and lay-in took down then No. 9 Butler just thee days before his 31 points led the Explorers to an eight-point road win over then No. 19 VCU.
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