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, as voted by our staff. Today, we feature #13 Courtney Stockard of St. Bonaventure.
What a year for the St. Bonaventure Bonnies: a 26-win season and their first NCAA Tournament victory since 1970, when Hall of Famer Bob Lanier led SBU all the way to the National Semifinals. Courtney Stockard, a junior from St. Louis, MO, saw himself as a key contributor for the Bonnies this season. Behind the one-two punch of guards Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley, Stockard emerged as a vital third scoring option once Atlantic-10 play began. When the calendar flipped to March, Stockard turned on the jets and played as well as anyone in the country. Without his play down the stretch, the Bonnies could have found themselves hosting a first-round NIT game. Looking ahead for next year, Stockard will be the most important player for Mark Schimdt’s Bonnies. With that said, let’s hope he stays in Olean. Some sources have rumored that Stockard may forgo his senior season and play professionally in Europe.
2/24/18 at VCU – Riding a nine game winning streak, St. Bonaventure looked to accomplish a feat they had never done in school history: defeat VCU at the Siegel Center in Richmond. One week earlier, the Bonnies handed #16 Rhode Island their first conference loss of the season. Thus, the Bonnies were flying high headed into Richmond. In a back-and-forth game, SBU found themselves up one, 60-59 with just under a minute left in regulation. With 57 seconds left, Stockard nailed a three to put his team up by four. One possession later, he added two more free throws to put SBU up by six. The Bonnies held on to this lead for good and defeated the Rams by a final score of 68-63. Stockard finished the night with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Bona enthusiasts declared this as “Stockard’s career game;” however, the best was yet to come.
2/27/18 vs Davidson – Three nights after the VCU game, the Bonnies played host to the red-hot Davidson Wildcats. As my friend Jason “J-Mac” McElwain of Rochester, NY would say, both teams “were as hot as a pistol” coming in to this matchup. The Bonnies had won ten games in a row while Davidson had won seven of their last eight. The game also aired on CBS Sports Network in Primetime: a 9pm tip in Olean. This game proved to be the best game of the year in college basketball: a triple overtime thriller in which the Bonnies prevailed 117-113. Stockard had 31 points on 11 of 17 shooting. He also snagged seven rebounds and went a perfect five for five from the line. One of the most forgotten things from this classic game was in the way it started: Stockard scored the first 17 points for St. Bonaventure in the first four and a half minutes of the game. An all-time performance during an all-time classic game.
3/13/18 vs UCLA – The Bonnies found themselves in Dayton for a First Four game against a historic blue-blood. To SBU, they felt that the Selection Committee did not give them the respect they deserved by sending them to Dayton. However, after the historic snub in 2016, St. Bonaventure felt happy to dance, no matter who or where they played. Courtney Stockard had arguably the best game of his career: a 26 point game against a power-five foe in the NCAA Tournament. Adams and Mobley combined to score only 22 points. Stockard was desperately needed since Bona’s two guards had an off night. He showed up in a big way for the Bonnies as they defeated UCLA 65-58 for their first NCAA tournament in 48 years.
14.6 – St. Bonaventure faced off against 12 teams with an RPI of 100 or better. In those 12 games, Stockard averaged 14.6 points per game. Stockard had the game winning basket with a couple of seconds left against Maryland in an early-season tournament in Florida over Thanksgiving. The Bonnies also went on to defeat Vermont on a neutral floor and Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. Without Stockard, the Bonnies may not have beaten such tough opponents.
19.8 – Over the final month of the season, beginning with the game against Rhode Island on February 16 and ending with SBU’s loss to Florida in the NCAAs on March 15, Courtney Stockard averaged 19.8 points per game. Stockard also suffered an injury in the win against Richmond in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals and ended up missing the Atlantic 10 semifinals against Davidson, a game in which St. Bonaventure lost. Perhaps, if healthy, Stockard could have propelled the Bonnies to victory in that game. Nonetheless, Stockard’s play down the stretch was fantastic. Without him, the Bonnies probably do not end up in the NCAA Tournament.
After missing the last two seasons due to injury, Stockard entered the season as a huge question mark. After his game winning shot against Maryland early on in the season, Mark Schmidt then realized that he had a major contributor along with senior guards Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley. Unless he leaves for another opportunity, Stockard will return to Olean next year as Bona’s most important player. He could potentially be a top-five player in the conference next season and average close to 20 points per game.
Previously: #14 Otis Livingston II