For the second time in three years, the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year award has been awarded to a member of the black and gold.
VCU junior point guard Ace Baldwin was named the A-10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in an announcement on Tuesday. Baldwin becomes just the fourth player in conference history to take home both awards in the same season.
On the season, Baldwin led VCU with 12.6 points per game while dishing out 5.8 assists per game, putting the Baltimore native second in the conference and 15th in the country.
Baldwin led the conference in steals per game with 2.5 and trailed only Duquesne guard Tre Clark in total steals – despite missing five games early in the season with wrist injuries. Baldwin ranks seventh in the country in steals per game.
Another major honor headed Ace's way!
🏀 becomes the fourth player to win Player and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season
🏀 ranks seventh nationally and leads the #A10MBB with 2.46 spg
🏀 All-Conference First Team and All-Defensive Team
— Atlantic 10 MBB (@A10MBB) March 7, 2023
VCU’s defense was led by Baldwin to great success during the season. Entering the conference tournament, VCU ranks 22nd in the country in defensive efficiency and fifth in turnover percentage – tops in the A-10 in both marks.
On the offensive end, Baldwin’s season highlight came in a Friday night ESPN A-10 showcase game against Saint Louis on Feb. 3. In a pivotal late-season road game, Baldwin scored a career-high 37 points – the most by a VCU player in nearly five years – on 12-of-15 shooting.
Baldwin becomes just the second VCU player to win A-10 Player of the Year honors, joining former teammate Bones Hyland, who took the award home in 2021. Baldwin is the first VCU player to earn the conference’s top defensive award since Briante Weber, who won the award in three consecutive seasons from 2013-15.
Three other A-10 players have taken home Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the same season: Pepe Sanchez (Temple, 2000), David West (Xavier, 2002) and Stephane Lasme (Massachusetts, 2007).
Additionally, Baldwin was honored with All A-10 First Team and All-Defensive Team honors.
Johns, DeLoach honored
Aside from Baldwin, two other VCU players received all-conference honors on Tuesday.
Graduate forward Brandon Johns Jr. and sophomore forward Jalen DeLoach were both named to the A-10 All-Conference Third Team.
Johns, who transferred to VCU during the summer from Michigan, averaged a career-high 11.9 points per game and leads VCU in total points. Johns, who also averaged 5.3 rebounds per game, scored in double figures 21 times and ended the regular season with the first double-double of his five-year collegiate career against George Washington (17 points, 10 rebounds).
The team leader in rebounds, DeLoach averaged 7.1 boards per game, which ranked the Georgia native seventh in the conference. DeLoach also ranked fifth in the conference in blocks, averaging 1.3 per contest. DeLoach averaged 10 points per game on the season, joining Baldwin and Johns as the only Rams to average double figures.
Other major awards
- Fordham head coach Keith Urgo won A-10 Coach of the Year, the first Fordham head coach to win the award since 1999. Urgo is the first head coach in more than a decade to win the award without winning the conference regular season crown, but for good reason – Fordham’s 24 wins are the most the program has earned in more than 30 years, and Fordham’s 12 wins in A-10 play are the most conference wins the team has ever earned in a single season.
- George Washington guard Maximus Edwards was named A-10 Rookie of the Year, the sixth Colonial to earn the honor. The redshirt freshman led all A-10 rookies in minutes played and in rebounding, grabbing 6.6 boards per game. He ranked third on the team in scoring with 10.7 per game and received five A-10 Rookie of the Week honors while helping lead the Colonials to their best season in six years.
- The Chris Daniels Most Improved Player Award went to George Washington graduate guard Brendan Adams. Adams ended the regular season fifth in the A-10 in points per game with 17.5, an increase of over nine points per game from last season. His shooting percentages from the floor and from 3-point range both went up by 10 or more percentage points.
- La Salle’s Josh Nickelberry received the Sixth Man of the Year Award, recognizing his 40.3% 3-point shooting off the bench. Nickelberry was the second-highest-scoring Explorer this season, averaging 11.6 points per game, while placing in the top five in the conference in 3-point shooting.
- Joining Baldwin on the All A-10 First Team were Dayton’s Toumani Camara and DaRon Holmes II, George Mason’s Josh Oduro, George Washington’s James Bishop IV and Saint Louis guard Yuri Collins. The award is the second consecutive all-conference first team nod for Collins and Oduro and the first selection for the other four players.