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 #18 Javon Bess of Saint Louis.
Javon Bess took a big step forward in his junior campaign. He nearly tripled his playing time and quadrupled his scoring averages. The Billikens didn’t take nearly has large a leap forward as he did though, ending with a pedestrian 17-16 record (9-9 in conference). Bess was in peak form during the Billikens 7-2 stretch during the conference season in February and showed how good Saint Louis can be when it’s clicking. Bess’s field goal percentage did take a slight dip, but his increased role on the team led to him taking nearly five times as many shots.
Bess’s best, and most important, performance of the season came against Virginia Tech, where he scored 22 points on 5-10 shooting, collected nine boards, and nailed the game clinching free throws. It was unquestionably the Billikens best win of the season, and Bess led the way. Javon had five other 20-plus point performances against Butler, Murray State, VCU, Dayton, and Duquesne. Another stellar performance by Bess came against the Bonnies, where he scored 13 points and collected SIXTEEN rebounds. The Billikens lost the game, but as was the case in many other games for Saint Louis, Bess kept them in it.
6.4. Bess got to the the line a team leading 6.4 times per game. He also took a huge step forward on his free throw percentage, raising it up from 57% in his sophomore season, to 76% in his junior season.
36.2. Bess also averaged a team leading 36.2 minutes per game, after only averaging a mere 11.4 minutes per game in both his freshman and sophomore seasons. He played less than 30 minutes in only three games all season, and played the full 40 in five.
Bess was a bulldog for the Billikens. Travis Ford said after one game, “His motor never stops. He’s our best defender. He’s usually a great rebounder. He can score going downhill. He can make some shots.” Bess was worthy of the praise, and kept his motor turning even in the bleakest of times during the season for SLU. They will need him to continue to improve, and for the rest of the team to adopt his workhorse mindset if the Billikens are going to take the next step and climb into the top four in the conference standings.
Previously: #19 Darrell Davis