Monday, May 15, 2017

MAAC Monday: Early predictions on all-conference honors

A first team all-MAAC selection last season, Fairfield's Tyler Nelson enters senior year as preseason favorite for Player of the Year honors. (Photo by Vincent Simone/NYC Buckets)

An offseason edition of MAAC Monday comes to you today, with something we normally don't do this early in the year, but were coerced to after reading longtime friend of the site Ryan Peters make similar projections for the Northeast Conference on NYC Buckets.

Finding 15 players to name to all-conference teams is hard enough during the year, and the two MAAC Monday posts in which we make midseason and end-of-season award picks take several hours (no exaggeration) to finalize, so in light of the transfer exodus that had befallen the MAAC last month, such a task was not any easier this time around, either. Nevertheless, here is the first edition of early all-MAAC honorees, with still another five months before the preseason poll is released:

First Team
Preseason Player of the Year: Tyler Nelson, Fairfield (19.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.1 SPG, 44% FG, 86% FT, 39% 3-pt FG in 2016-17)
Nico Clareth, Siena (13.7 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.1 SPG)
Matt Scott, Niagara (17.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.4 SPG, 38% 3-pt FG)
Micah Seaborn, Monmouth (13.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.3 APG)
Rich Williams, Manhattan (did not play in 2016-17; 14.8 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.1 SPG, 36% 3-pt FG in 2015-16)

Analysis: With Nelson, the MAAC's top returning scorer, back for a senior season in a conference that does not boast as much incumbent talent as it did a year ago, the choice for Preseason Player of the Year is a clear one. Seaborn, a first team selection as a sophomore last season as Monmouth won a second straight regular season championship, is also a no-brainer here; as is Clareth, who will be a regular in the starting five for Siena for the first time after two years as Jimmy Patsos' sixth man. Niagara returning the bulk of its roster next season positions the Purple Eagles for a projected top-half finish in the conference, which will allow Scott to become a household name after being an underrated stat-stuffer for his first three years under Chris Casey. Williams is the wild card here. Much like George Beamon, who returned from an ankle injury and medical redshirt to a first team selection before leading the Jaspers to a MAAC title in 2014, Williams is on a similar track as he enters his senior season, hungry to make an impact as the leader of what could be Steve Masiello's most experienced unit as he enters his seventh year at the helm in Riverdale.

Second Team
Jermaine Crumpton, Canisius (15.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.3 APG, 43% 3-pt FG in 2016-17)
Kahlil Dukes, Niagara (15.5 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 5.0 APG, 92% FT, 41% 3-pt FG)
Rickey McGill, Iona (10.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 5.2 APG, 1.8 SPG)
Zavier Turner, Manhattan (14.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 89% FT, 40% 3-pt FG)
Zane Waterman, Manhattan (14.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 48% FG)

Analysis: Crumpton will be a greater focal point offensively for Canisius with Kassius Robertson having transferred to Missouri, and the development of Malik Johnson and Isaiah Reese as sophomores in the backcourt will aid the big man's productivity immensely. Dukes, a former point guard at Southern California, displayed his high-major value last season for Niagara, and will not be taking anyone by surprise this season, given the Purple Eagles' high expectations. McGill is Iona's top returning player, and may very well be a first team selection by the end of the year. Nothing against Iona, but the ever-changing roster in New Rochelle makes it difficult to gauge where each player will fit in at first blush. Throw in the fact that there is no true alpha dog a la David Laury, A.J. English, or Jordan Washington this season, and the Gaels are even more dependent upon the sum of their parts forming a collectively stronger whole. Turner and Waterman were two of the lone bright spots in an uncharacteristically down year for Manhattan last season, and as seniors, will no doubt be looking to expand their skill sets and make up for lost time in what should be a return to MAAC prominence this year.

Third Team
Chaise Daniels, Quinnipiac (13.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.7 BPG, 51% FG in 2016-17)
Stevie Jordan, Rider (11.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1.3 SPG)
Zach Lewis, Iona (8.8 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 1.3 APG for UMass in 2016-17)
Deyshonee Much, Iona (9.5 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.4 SPG, 39% 3-pt FG)
Brian Parker, Marist (12.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 3.1 APG)

Analysis: Daniels was supposedly following Mikey Dixon and Peter Kiss out the door in Hamden after Tom Moore was fired in March, but had a change of heart and will now benefit from being the post presence that Baker Dunleavy's guard-centric offense will find under the rim. Look for Daniels to solidify himself as one of the best bigs in the MAAC this season as a result. If not for a suspension midway through the conference season and the emergence of Dixon down the stretch, Jordan would most likely have been Rookie of the Year at Rider, and will be the unquestioned leader for the Broncs now that Jimmie Taylor and Kahlil Thomas have departed. The Philadelphia area product emphatically answered whatever questions may have lingered in regard to Teddy Okereafor's successor, but a new set of challenges awaits in his ability to carry the load for a rebuilding team. Lewis makes his return to the MAAC after leaving Canisius for UMass, and should be the new version of Jon Severe and Sam Cassell, Jr. for the Gaels this year. His prior knowledge of the MAAC will only make him more formidable on the perimeter alongside new teammate Much, who is poised for a breakout season as long as he can stay healthy. Finally, Parker gets his chance to shine in Mike Maker's offense, taking over the reins from Khallid Hart and bringing his well-rounded game into a junior campaign that should add to an already rich potential. Whether the Red Foxes have enough around him for him to truly blossom is a different story.

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