Welcome to A10 Talk’s postseason Top 25 player countdown where we’ll be breaking down the best players in the Atlantic 10 this past year, as voted on by our staff. Each day, we’ll release a new article as we unveil our list. Today, we start with #8 Javon Bess of Saint Louis.
What he did
In just 2 seasons at Saint Louis, Javon Bess became one of the best players in the Atlantic 10, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. The Billikens had an up-and-down season as they were picked to win the league and scored a huge road win over Seton Hall in November. However, late non-conference losses and a rough stretch of A-10 play meant Saint Louis’ at-large chances were just about done. But thanks to Bess and co. in Brooklyn, the Billikens made the NCAA Tournament, winning the A-10 Tourney as a 6 seed.
In that stretch of key wins in Brooklyn, Bess was vital in the win over Davidson where he scored 24 points and contributed to the crippling defense the Wildcats couldn’t figure out. Bess had some big nights scoring the basketball throughout the season as Saint Louis struggled to find consistency on offense; once again, defense was the team’s bread and butter. Javon Bess was arguably the best on-ball defender the league has seen in years, as he was able to shut down the likes of Seton Hall’s Myles Powell and Saint Joseph’s Charlie Brown when the Billikens took them on. For a team that often struggled to take care of the basketball and make free throws, Javon Bess did both of those things well and was truly an experienced player who knew how to get Saint Louis a big win come crunch time.
What he’ll do
Javon Bess has graduated and will move on from Saint Louis. It’s likely that Bess will look to play professional ball moving forward. The Billikens will have a lot of gaps to fill in 2019-20, as key scorer Tramaine Isabell also departs this offseason, among others. Luckily, Travis Ford has the roster stocked with some impact freshmen who should see a lot of playing time in their first seasons. That being said, the Bills may be a few seasons away from getting back to the NCAA Tournament. Losing a veteran scorer and defender like Javon Bess is something that you don’t recover from overnight.