It’s fun speculating on December first about who will win an award in March, right? I mean, how serious can a frontrunner be when arguably the two best players in the league, E.C. Matthews and Jaylen Adams, are sidelined? There’s A LOT of basketball left to be played this season and undoubtedly a lot of hot and cold streaks to be had. Regardless, let’s acknowledge some players who’ve played great ball thus far and have the upper hand as we near the quarter pole of the season.
B.J. Johnson, La Salle
What a season B.J. is off to. He’s averaging nearly a double-double (22.1pts 9.7rebounds), but more importantly, he has lead the Explorers to a better than expected start. They might already have three losses, but those L’s came to #11 Miami, #20 Northwestern, and Boston College. They only lost by 11 to Miami, and 8 to Northwestern. More importantly, they followed those difficult games by rallying to beat their crosstown rival Temple. In that game B.J. had 25pts and played all 40 minutes. Combined, he and Pookie Powell have been the best duo thus far in the A-10. If he continues his stellar play, not only will he be hunting for the POY award, but La Salle will have a reasonable chance to finish in the top 4 this season.
Peyton Aldridge, Davidson
Aldridge has lived up to expectations in his senior year. Following the departure of Jack Gibbs, it was clear that Aldridge would be the focal point of the offense. So far, he has delivered, averaging 22 points per game along with 7.2 rebounds. Aside from his performance against Nevada, where he looked completely overmatched, Aldridge has been fantastic. His best performance was against UNC Wilmington where he went off for 26 points in the first half alone. For Davidson to have a successful season, they will need Aldridge to continue to be the superstar he has developed into. In a down year for the A-10, a team with a player like Aldridge can never be counted out.
Jared Terrell, Rhode Island
Usually, the best player on the best team is considered to be a POY candidate. Well, Terrell has been that for a Rhody team that lost their top guard two games into the season. He’s upped his scoring average to 19.0 points per game, and his three point shooting percentage to over 50%. Most impressive though, was his game winning shot to lift the Rams over #20 Seton Hall and secure the A-10’s best win of the year (so far). Terrell has come a long way since his freshman season, and will continue to be relied upon even after E.C. Matthews returns.
Darrell Davis, Dayton
Davis has been a rock for a young Dayton team still trying to find their footing under first year head coach Anthony Grant. He has made good use of his increased playing time this year, raising his scoring average by nearly 15 points per game. He has scored more than 20 points in three games, and has played over 34 minutes in every contest. Davis didn’t draw much attention heading into this season, but if his play from the first six games continues, no one will be overlooking him come conference season time.
Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure
He hasn’t stepped on the court yet this season. He has only practiced once. At one point some fans were beginning to wonder if they should redshirt him. But, given what he has done in his career, would you bet against him being the best player in the league upon his return? Missing six non-conference games will have little effect on Adam’s chances to snag POY as long as he comes back as the normal Jay. Many anticipate that he will return this Saturday for the Bonnies big matchup against Buffalo. If he does, and he appears to be 100%, I would still call him one of the favorites to win POY.
E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island
Matt Mobley, St. Bonaventure
Justin Tillman, VCU
Josh Cunningham, Dayton