Sunday, February 2, 2014

Handing Out Our American Athletic Conference Mid-Season Awards

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 selections.

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 team.
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.

DeAndre Daniels, UConn: Napier himself calls Daniels UConn's best player. Huskies sure hope his high ankle sprain heals quickly.
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 school. 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 complete package.

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’ bench.

STUDENT-ATHLETE AWARD: Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame. Sorry, 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.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

why is 6th man so tough? its not even close Michael dixon jr. is hands down winner of 6th man. should be 2nd team all conference. He is really one of the best players in conference just handcuffed some in memphis

February 26, 2014 at 3:12 AM 
Anonymous best nfl players of all time said...

American football deals with a lot of players all at once, so you are going to get many different players wall at once you are going to experience many different emotions and attitudes of said players.

December 5, 2014 at 7:39 AM 

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