Welcome to A10 Talk’s Top 25 Player Countdown. Each day, we publish a new article counting down the 25 best players in the Atlantic 10 this past season. Today, we continue our countdown with #24 De’Monte Buckingham.
T.J. Cline may have been the talk of the town on Richmond’s campus this past season, but you’d be mistaken if you hadn’t heard of De’Monte Buckingham. The 6-4 freshman from Henrico, Virginia had a monster first year for the Spiders. Affecting all facets of the game, Buckingham started getting national attention the minute he stepped onto the court at the Robins Center. De’Monte Buckingham won A-10 Rookie of the Year honors after averaging 10.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Though Chris Mooney loses two studs to graduation in T.J. Cline and ShawnDre’ Jones, he keeps one heck of a rising sophomore in De’Monte Buckingham.
It’s only fitting that De’Monte Buckingham’s best performance of the season came when it mattered most. In the semi-finals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament, the Spiders got a third crack at VCU, a team that had beaten them twice previously, and Buckingham almost willed UR to the championship game. His 26 points were a career-high. He hit 4 three pointers, added 3 assists, and pulled down 3 boards. Coming up in the clutch with some huge shots down the stretch, Buckingham proved he has what it takes to lead Richmond for years to come.
Buckingham was key to helping Richmond get off to a red-hot start in conference play. The freshman went for 22 points against Fordham. He’d follow that up 2 games later with 18 points and 13 boards against the Bonnies. Buckingham had 18 double-digit scoring performances this season; three of those were 20+ point performances, and he scored in double digits throughout Richmond’s three game NIT run.
Perhaps one of Buckingham’s more underrated performances came at home against Davidson. Though he went for just 10 points, the freshman pulled down 5 boards, dished out 5 assists, and had 4 key steals. De’Monte Buckingham is a special player who’s continually brining his A-game on both ends of the floor. Richmond is lucky to have him.
Buckingham was 4th on the team in scoring last season with 10.5 points per game. His 5.6 boards per contest ranked 2nd behind Cline, and Buckingham was even 4th on the team in assists per game with 2.3. De’Monte Buckingham was undoubtedly Richmond’s best defender last season, leading the team in total steals (56) and total blocks (24). While a great scorer, De’Monte Buckingham is one of the better defenders in the Atlantic 10. He’s a player thats going to receive praise for his numbers offensively and his work at the other end of the floor.
Buckingham’s 2.9% steal percentage was the best in the conference this season, and his 39.5% three point shooting in A-10 play ranked 13th. As a true freshman, De’Monte Buckingham’s 55.7% effective field goal percentage was 9th best in the league. Buckingham was truly a special player in his first year at Richmond, and that’s something that his numbers only begin to show. It’s easy to see why Buckingham is going to be a star.
De’Monte Buckingham was one of the biggest reasons why Richmond didn’t crash and burn in the Atlantic 10 this season. After dragging their feet out to a 6-6 start in non-conference play, the Spiders seemed doomed to finish in the bottom half of the conference. De’Monte Buckingham had something to say about that. He beautifully played Robin to T.J. Cline’s Batman, and he understood his role in the system. He never tried to do too much on offense, and the upperclassmen on this Richmond squad could learn something from his defensive skills. All in all, Richmond is going to prosper with De’Monte Buckingham at the helm for seasons to come. The Spiders have found their star; now it’s a matter of figuring out who’s going to be Robin to Buckingham’s Batman.
Previously: #25 Kyle Davis