We’re pretty much at the halfway point of the American
Athletic Conference schedule, so why not hand out some mid-season AAC awards?
The conference will essentially hand out the same hardware the Big East used to dole out, though with only 10 teams, there will just be first and second
all-league teams (no third team), along with a few honorable mention
Here we go (and remember, all references to statistical categories are for conference games only):
Shabazz Napier, UConn: See also: Year, Player of the.
Russ Smith, Louisville: Still terrific, still a
Husky-killer, still equally capable of winning or losing a game all by himself.
Montrezl Harrell, Louisville: League’s leading rebounder
and perhaps most physically intimidating player.
Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati: Best player on league’s best
Justin Jackson, Cincinnati: Best defensive player on
league’s best defensive team.
Joe Jackson, Memphis: May not even be best player on his
team or best Jackson in the league, but a preseason first-teamer who’ll
probably end up there, as well.
Shaq Goodwin, Memphis: Physically imposing (6-9, 245
lbs.) player who may merit first-team status.
TaShawn Thomas, Houston: Thursday night’s clunker vs.
UConn was first time he hasn’t hit double figures this season.
Nic Moore, SMU: Best player on floor (20 points, six
assists) in ‘Stangs win over UConn on Jan. 4.
Isaiah Sykes, UCF: Only player in AAC among league
leaders in scoring (18.1 ppg) and rebounding (8.6).
Markus Kennedy, SMU
Kadeem Jack, Rutgers
Victor Rudd, USF
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
: Shabazz Napier, UConn
. Russ Smith was
the preseason pick, but this is a virtual no-brainer. Napier leads the Huskies
in scoring, assists, steals and rebounds (!) and has certainly been more valuable to his team than any other player in the nation. And no one is more clutch, a trait he's had since high schoo
l. He’s a strong national player
of the year candidate, too, though it’s hard to see him beating out Creighton’s
Doug McDermott at this point.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Danrad Knowles, Houston. One interesting
thing about the America is that it is dominated by upperclassmen. The
conference’s top five scorers are all seniors and eight of its top 10 scorers
are juniors or seniors. In fact, Knowles (9.4 ppg) and Louisville’s Terry
Rozier (9.1) are the only two frosh among the league’s top 30 scorers (27th
and 30th, respectively). Of course, it’s not all about scoring,
which is why UConn’s Amida Brimah, USF’s John Egbunu and Chris Perry and SMU’s
Ben Moore are all still very much in the running for this award. But as of now,
Knowles (who also averages 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks) is probably the most
COACH OF THE YEAR: Mick Cronin, Cincinnati. In his seven
seasons in the Big East, Cronin never won this award. But he’s got the
Bearcats, picked to finish fourth in the preseason coaches’ poll, undefeated
and all alone at the top of the AAC standings. There’s recently been some talk
of national coach of the year consideration, too, though that seems a bit
lofty, in my mind. (Larry Brown is a distant second right now).
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Justin Jackson, Cincinnati.
This award usually goes to a player who either leads the league in blocked
shots or steals, so consider this: Jackson leads the AAC in blocks (3.6) and is
third in steals (2.1). Impressive. Amida Brimah may win this award for years to
come, but not this season.
SIXTH MAN AWARD: Michael Dixon, Jr., Memphis. This is a tough
one, especially considering there are a lot of players in the league who have
started at times and come off the bench at others, sort of clouding the
definition of sixth man. UConn’s Niels Giffey merits consideration, no doubt,
but we’ll go with Dixon, who’s averaging 11.4 points primarily off the Tigers’
STUDENT-ATHLETE AWARD: Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame.
just kidding. Sort of force of habit. Didn’t he win this award, like, six years
in a row in the Big East? Anyway, your guess is as good as mine for this award.
It’s too bad walk-ons aren’t eligible, though, or UConn’s Pat Lenehan might bethe runaway winner
SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD: I’m sure there are many deserving candidates
for this award, but I don’t know all the players around the league well enough
to narrow it down. I'm open to any suggestions.
Labels: DeAndre Daniels, Isaiah Sykes, Joe Jackson, Justin Jackson, Kadeem Jack, Markus Kennedy, Montrezl Harrell, Nic Moore, Russ Smith, Sean Kilpatrick, Shabazz Napier, Shaq Goodwin, TaShawn Thomas, Victor Rudd