America East Award Predictions

It’s Officially Award SZN

Barring the UML – Hartford contest later tonight, the America East regular season has come to a close. The conference tournament tips-off this Sunday with quarterfinal action, then we move on to the semifinals on Wednesday and finally wrap up with the conference championship Saturday morning on national TV. 

Before Sunday’s slate of action, we’ll dive into some playoff predictions and maybe even a potential upset? For now though, here are my predictions for the end of the year awards for the America East will shake out.

All-Conference First Team

Guard – Ben Shungu (Vermont)

Guard – Austin Williams (Hartford)

Guard – Anthony Roberts (Stony Brook)

Forward – Miles Coleman (NJIT)

Forward – Ryan Davis (Vermont)

Hard to find much fault with the top five America East scorers. Davis leads the pack with 17.2 PPG, while Williams (16.4) and Roberts (16.3) round out the top three. Elsewhere, Shungu lands fourth in AE scoring (15.8) and third overall in 3PT% with a 44% clip. Coleman meanwhile finishes fifth in scoring (15.4) and fifth overall in total rebounds with 162 on year (5.8 RPG). The only impasse that could affect Coleman is that fact he’s the only one on this list to finish with a losing conference record. Regardless, all five men have had outstanding seasons and are well deserving of first team honors. 

All-Conference Second Team

Guard – Keondre Kennedy (UMBC)

Guard – Moses Flowers (Hartford)

Guard – Tykei Greene (Stony Brook)

Guard – Jamel Horton (Albany)

Forward – Jayden Martinez (New Hampshire)

If team success is going to impact voting (which it should) then Kennedy, Flowers and Greene could potentially jump Coleman for that fifth spot. Kennedy finished just a hair behind Coleman in scoring (15.1), while Flowers (14.7) also finished third in rebounding (6.4) and first in steals (1.6). Greene on the hand finished ninth in scoring (14.0), first in rebounding (8.1) and second in steals (1.4). Horton (12.8) and Martinez (14.9) round out the rest of the top ten scorers, while Horton also finishes as the top assist leader (4.0).

All-Conference Third Team

Guard – Jacob Falko (Binghamton)

Guard – Blondeau Tchoukuiegno (New Hampshire)

Guard – Matt Cerruti (Albany)

Forward – Isaiah Powell (Vermont)

Forward – Max Brooks (UMass-Lowell)

Here’s where things get interesting as there’s a number of players that are all incredibly deserving but will likely miss the cut. Falko has been Bighamton’s unquestioned leader and a huge reason why they’ve had (albeit small) a successful campaign. Likewise, Tchoukuiegno is right behind Martinez for UNH and has an incredibly bright future ahead of him. Cerruti leads the AE in 3PT% (45.4%) and is a very stingy defender. Powell has been the straw that stirs the drink for Vermont, constantly filling the statsheet across the board and nearly reaching the triple-double on a few occasions this year. And finally there’s Brooks who was a defensive nightmare with his length and strength in the post. Spoiler alert, Brooks picks up a few more honors.

All-Conference Defensive Team

Guard – Moses Flowers (Hartford)

Guard – Tykei Greene (Stony Brook)

Guard – Everette Hammond (UMass-Lowell)

Forward – Max Brooks (UMass-Lowell)

Forward – Matt Faw (NJIT)

Flowers, Greene and Brooks I feel very confident about, but Hammond and Faw could go either way. This really comes down to how the committee views it. Are they basing their vote strictly from an individual perspective or do they account for team success as well? It’s tougher from a defensive standpoint to fully measure success. Much like in football when a great cornerback locks down an opposing receiver, the ball is never thrown their way, meaning less chances to pile up stats. Meanwhile an average cornerback is going to get more chances to grab an INT or make a tackle as the ball is being thrown their way. As such this list could go in a number of different directions, but I’ll stick with these five to make the cut.

All-Conference Rookie Team

Guard – Sam Ihekwoaba (Maine)

Guard – Quinton Mincey (UMass-Lowell)

Forward – Justin Neely (Albany)

Forward – Keeshawn Mason (NJIT)

Forward – Kristians Feierbergs (Maine)

Honestly this is somewhat redundant. Not a lot of action for freshmen across the board this year in the America East, but my guess is that these five will be noted. Ihekwoaba and Neely did a solid job in their freshmen campaigns and will likely find even greater success should they stick with their respective programs. Outside of Mincey (who barely played his FR year) I included only those who were true freshmen and not technically listed as freshmen from the Covid year. Hopefully the selection committee does the same.

All-Conference Name Team

Guard – Moses Flowers (Hartford)

Guard – Briggs McClain (Hartford)

Guard – Chuck Champion (Albany)

Guard – Finn Sullivan (Vermont)

Forward – Paul Newman (Albany)

We had some great names in the America East this year. Personally I’m a bit partial to Paul Newman (fantastic salad dressing) but Briggs McClain is an absolute joy to say as well. The only thing better than saying Moses Flowers name has been watching him play. Chuck Champion rolls off the tongue and sounds like a made-up generic character from 2K. Finn Sullivan earns the final nod, in large part due to Coach Gal himself saying how much he loved that name. 

America East Player of the Year

Forward – Ryan Davis (Vermont)

2021-22 Statistics – 26 GP. 17.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.8 BPG.

For the sixth straight year a Vermont Catamount will be taking home the AE PoY hardware. Davis becomes the fifth Catamount to win AE PoY in back-to-back years, cementing his legacy as one of the greatest to ever don that green and gold jersey. From a strictly statistical standpoint, Davis finished just a hair below a number of his 2020-21 outputs but this year’s Vermont team is far superior than that of last years, often allowing his supporting cast to deliver when he was doubled up defensively. Despite the ever so slight dip, Davis was widely regarded as the best player in the conference and a true impact-player on both ends of the court.

Others Receiving Votes – Austin Williams (Harford), Ben Shungu (Vermont)

America East Defensive Player of the Year

Forward – Max Brooks (UMass-Lowell) 

2021-22 Statistics – 27 GP. 10.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 0.6 APG, 2.4 BPG.

The River Hawks finished the year with one of, if not the best defense in the conference. UML led the conference outright in both blocks and steals, with the catalyst at the forefront of it coming from sophomore Max Brooks. The long-armed Brooks finished first in the conference with 64 blocks – nearly double of Matt Faw’s second place 34. What really sealed the deal for Brooks was his stout play against AE PoY Ryan Davis earlier in the season when he limited him to just 13 points and forced many earrant passes in post due to his length.

Others Receiving Votes – Tykei Greene (Stony Brook)

America East Sixthman of the Year

Guard – Aaron Deloney (Vermont)

2021-22 Statistics – 26 GP. 7.7 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.5 SPG.

Deloney’s junior campaign began with a bit of rough patch as the first seven games of the season saw him score just 9 total points in very limited minutes. But an 18-point outing against Colgate ignited a run that saw Deloney ultimately finish as the fourth leading scorer for Vermont. Deloney’s highlight performance came from a career-high 24-point display against NJIT, finishing the game 8-8 from the field and 4-4 from beyond the arc. 

Others Receiving Votes – Kellen Amos (Binghamton)

America East Rookie of the Year

Guard – Sam Ihekwoaba (Maine)

2021-22 Statistics – 26 GP. 5.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.0 SPG.

If there’s one perk about playing for the worst team in the conference it’s that you’ll at least get playing time. Ihekwoaba might not be the most talented freshman in the America East, but his 15.1 MPG and 5.8 PPG led all true freshmen this year. Finding talented players has been quite the struggle for Maine but Ihekwoaba appears to be a solid building block. Now the real challenge of building around Ihekwoaba before he transfers out begins.

Others Receiving Votes – Justin Neely (Albany)

America East Newcomer of the Year

Guard – John McGriff (Binghamton)

2021-22 Statistics – 23 GP. 11.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.6 APG, 0.8 SPG. 

Although the Newcomer of the Year award isn’t recognized by the AE, recruiting through the transfer portal has become more mainstream and I suspect that this recognition will soon be a part of the yearly AE awards.

Sophomore John McGriff joined Binghamton after spending his first year at St. Johns. His freshman campaign in NYC was not one he’d like to remember, as he only averaged 0.7 PPG. But in his inaugural season at Binghamton, McGriff shot all the way up to 11.3 PPG, finishing second in scoring for the Bearcats. McGriff is likely better suited to play at the America East rather than the Big East, as his move has already looked like a slam dunk for both sides.

Others Receiving Votes – Finn Sullivan (Vermont)

America East Coach of the Year

John Becker (Vermont)

2021-22 Statistics – 25-5 overall, 17-1 AE conference, 1st in conference scoring (74 PPG), 1st in conference FG% (49%), 1st in conference assists (15 APG). Won AE regular season title.

This would mark the sixth AE CoY award John Becker has received during his 11 seasons at the helm. The endless accolades and records that Becker has compiled during his tenure in Burlington are ridiculous to say the least. One of the most alluring factors for incoming recruits is his ability to develop and maximize talent, as seen by the six straight AE PoY awards. Seemingly every year there’s chatter that Becker will leave to a bigger program. Selfishly I hope he stays in Burlington for another 15-20 years, but should the right opportunity present itself and Becker decides it’s time to move on, every Vermont fan would show him nothing but love.

Others Receiving Votes – Levell Sanders (Binghamton)

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