Running along with the theme of being at the halfway point of conference play, it’s time to bring out the mid-season awards. These awards will have the WAC Hoops Player and Coach of the Year to this point. The awards will have first-team All-WAC selections to this point. And these awards will be based off of what the players/coaches have done in WAC play. WAC hoops has been extremely fun to watch thus far. And it is only going to get more intense down the stretch.
So, let’s get to it.
Player of the Year – Terrell Brown, Seattle U
Yes, New Mexico State fans won’t be happy. But, it’s tough to argue with a player who is first in points per game, second in steals, 12th in rebounds and second in assists in WAC play. Brown is having a really solid season for the Redhawks. The redshirt junior is averaging 18.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. Brown also has 16 steals in WAC play, good for second in the league. If the Redhawks shot it better, Brown might be averaging a double-double per game. If Brown is to win this award at the end of the season, Seattle has to have a big second half.
Ivan Aurrecoechea, New Mexico State
Brandon Boyd, California Baptist
Milan Acquaah, California Baptist
Jabari Rice, New Mexico State
Jordan Jackson, UTRGV
Carlos Johnson, GCU
Alessandro Lever, GCU
Coach of the Year – Chris Jans, New Mexico State
This is a no-brainer. The Aggies are 8-0 in WAC play and considering all the injuries New Mexico State has dealt with, it might be the best coaching job Jans has done since coming to Las Cruces. Jans lost Clayton Henry, A.J. Harris and currently Trevelin Queen. Yet, the Aggies continue to win. Sure, some wins are uglier than others, but New Mexico State wins. The Aggies chemistry is extremely high and they just want to win. Add in the fact that Jans knows how to handle egos and has built a culture of playing together, and you can see why New Mexico State is on its way to a WAC championship again.
Rick Croy – California Baptist
Billy Donlon – Kansas City
Defensive Player of the Year – Emmanuel Olojapoke, Utah Valley
The Akron graduate transfer is a rim protector. Olojapoke leads the WAC with 65 blocks overall.
23 of those blocks have come during WAC play. The next closest is Zach Pirog of California Baptist who has 34 blocks on the season. First-year head coach Mark Madsen says that Olojapoke’s timing is amazing and that he times his attempts just right. Plus, the athleticism that Olojapoke has provides a challenge for opponents. Perhaps the more amazing stat for the big rim protector is that Olojapoke has only fouled out of one game in WAC play.
Trevelin Queen, New Mexico State
Jovan Blacksher Jr., Grand Canyon
Javon Levi, UTRGV
Ivan Aurrecoechea, New Mexico State – Averaging 15.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and shooting 61% from the field in WAC play
Jabari Rice, New Mexico State – Averaging 12.8 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 45% from 3-point land in WAC play
Carlos Johnson, GCU – Averaging 16.8 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 47% from the field in WAC play
Jordan Jackson, UTRGV – Averaging 16.3 points while shooting 50% from the field and may have the Dunk of the Year in the WAC
Alessandro Lever, GCU – Averaging 15.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and shooting 51% from the field in WAC play
Yes, there will be discussions, debates, angry fans and perhaps angry coaches when they read this. It’s okay. That is healthy for WAC Hoops. It makes things interesting in the second half of conference play. If New Mexico State wins out and Ivan Aurrecoechea or Jabari Rice continue to play the way they have, one of those two will be the WAC Player of the Year. Can Seattle make a run at the two-seed and give Terrell Brown an even bigger chance of winning Player of the Year honors?
There are so many things that can happen between now and March when the awards are handed out. Sit back and enjoy some entertaining basketball and follow along at WAC Hoops Digest.