There’s always a lot of speculation as to who will walk away with Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, and this year, the award is definitely still up in the air. While there is certainly a frontrunner, there’s a lot of basketball to be played this season, and depending on how well a player shows up between now and Selection Sunday, a number of different guys could win. As we’re on the downhill side of the conference season, let’s take a look at the best players by position this year. These are certainly guys that could win the award at the end of the season.
Point Guard: Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure
The stud point guard has been doing big things in Olean this season. Adams leads the Atlantic 10 in scoring, nearly edging out Jack Gibbs at 21.5 points per contest. In addition, he’s leading the conference in assists per game at 6.2 per contest. That’s tough to beat. Though he’s been struggling with his three point shot, especially in conference play, Adams is drawing fouls at the highest rate in the Atlantic 10, and he’s knocking down better than 80% of his free throw attempts on the season. Not to mention, Adams has been incredibly active on the defensive end as well, as he’s got the third best steal percentage in the league. Jaylen Adams continues to be St. Bonaventure’s rock as he’s been keeping this team alive in the top half of the conference standings. Once again, the junior out of Baltimore is showing the nation just how good of a player and leader he can be.
Shooting Guard: Marquise Moore, George Mason
Though he’s just 6-2 and is listed as a shooting guard, Marquise Moore is realistically another big man for this George Mason team. At 17.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, he’s been the reason George Mason has been somewhat relevant this season. And yes, a 6-2 guard is leading the Atlantic 10 in rebounding this year. Seriously though, averaging a double-double per game isn’t too shabby, especially when you’re putting up 17.8 points per game as well. He’s improved significantly on the glass and as an offensive threat, and Marquise Moore has even notched up his defensive intensity quite a bit this season. I’m not sure if Moore will end up getting the award, but he’s definitely going to be highly considered. No one is more important to his respective team than Moore.
Small Forward: Charles Cooke, Dayton
Charles Cooke is having himself yet another great season with the Flyers. I’m sure they’re happy he decided to come back and play his senior year. Cooke is an all-around great player. He’s averaging 16.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. HIs passing has been the most improved aspect of his game when looking at his abilities as a junior, and as Dayton looks to try and win the Atlantic 10 this year, he looks to be the biggest reason why. Cooke hasn’t had any enormous scoring nights in conference play, but he’s been pretty consistent throughout. He’s going to have a lot of chances to prove himself in the coming weeks. We’ll see what he’s got.
Power Forward: Hassan Martin, Rhode Island
This might be a little bit of a bold pick, but Hassan Martin has been great this season despite an injury setback. Hassan isn’t necessarily the best offensive player in the conference, but his rebounding and defense certainly make up for that. Not to mention that Martin is 16th in the league in points per contest and has 4 nights with 20 or more points, so it’s not like he’s been doing nothing on the offensive end. Martin’s 6.5 rebounds per game put him 9th in the league in that category. His 2.9 blocks per game lead the conference by a long shot, and that also puts him tied for 5th in the nation. Hassan Martin lives to swat shots and protect the rim, and if not player of the year, he could very well be on his way to defensive player of the year. Martin’s doing a lot better job limiting turnovers this season, and though he missed a decent chunk, he’s been very valuable. I don’t expect Hassan Martin to win A-10 Player of the Year this season, but keep him in mind as a dark horse in these next few weeks.
Center: T.J. Cline, Richmond
Here’s the guy you should really be paying attention to. At this point, T.J. Cline seems like a really good pick to win the Atlantic 10 POY award. Not only has he brought Richmond from the dust of a horrible non-conference slate, but the Spiders have been in and out of first place in A-10 for the majority of the conference season. T.J. Cline has been a major reason why. Cline is shooting an incredible 62.1% from the field in league play, and he’s averaging more than 19 points per game in the process. Cline has the #1 assist rate and #1 defensive rebounding rate in Atlantic 10 play. Do you know hard that is to do? Basically, Cline is a threat all over the floor, and he’s been exceeding what were still very lofty expectations heading into the season. Right now, he’s my pick.