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 #21 Mike Lewis II.
The 2016-17 season was another quiet one for Duquesne, but freshman standout Mike Lewis II made some noise. Lewis became an immediate scoring threat last season and finished the season as Duquesne’s leading scorer. Lewis’s scoring ability caught national attention, and he was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team for his efforts. Duquesne has found a hidden gem in Lewis, and his future on the Bluff is bright.
In just his third game at the A.J. Palumbo Center, Lewis exhibited his offensive game to Duquesne fans. Lewis scored a game high 20 points and led Duquesne to an 78-71 victory over Cleveland State. He shot 8-13 from the field, hit two threes, and pulled down five boards. Lewis displayed his defensive ability as well as he forced two steals.
When Duquesne traveled to take on Saint Louis in February, it was a homecoming for the shooting guard. The St. Louis native put on a show in his hometown. He went for 24 points against the Billikens, and hit five threes. Lewis also added 3 assists. Despite his effort, Duquesne unfortunately came up short and Saint Louis pulled out an 87-81 victory over Lewis and the Dukes.
Mike Lewis’s best performance of the season came just three days after the loss to Saint Louis, and it helped end Duquesne’s grueling eight game losing streak in conference play. Lewis put up a career high 31 points against UMass, finishing just one point short of tying the program’s record for most points in a single game by a freshman. After missing his first six shots of the evening, Lewis caught fire. He finished 6-7 from beyond the arc, tallied three assists, had one steal and pulled down a rebound. Lewis showed the A-10 that when he gets hot, it’s not easy to slow him down.
Lewis averaged 14.1 points per game and he finished the season with 24 double-digit scoring performances. Lewis was third on the team in assists behind Tarin Smith and Rene Castro, averaging 1.7 assists per game during his freshman season. He led the team in three-pointers made (63) this season and was third on the team in total steals (20).
Lewis shot 37% from three against conference opponents and his offensive rating (110.7) ranked 19th best in the A-10. His true shooting percentage (57%) ranked 16th in the conference. Lewis’s scoring ability will be relied upon heavily again next season, as he is the only one of Duquesne’s top three scorers returning to the program.
Duquesne ended up at the bottom of the Atlantic 10 again last season, but the production from Lewis offers a glimmer of hope. Even though Duquesne only managed to come away with three conference wins this season, Mike Lewis played a major role in all of those victories. With Lewis, new head coach Keith Dambrot has a very solid foundation to build the program around. Now Dambrot must find the right pieces to put around Lewis in order to finally make Duquesne an Atlantic 10 contender.
Previously: #22 Joseph Chartouny