Thursday, November 9, 2017

2017-18 All-Met preseason teams

After dominant rookie season, Shamorie Ponds is poised to remain one of best players in New York area as he leads St. John's into a season with NCAA Tournament aspirations in mind. (Photo by Vincent Dusovic/St. John's University Athletics)

John Templon, the friend of the site responsible for overseeing his own quality outlet and staff over at NYC Buckets, compiled a list of two all-city teams, focusing on the seven programs within the five boroughs Wednesday morning. Inspired by the post, and somewhat surprised by a few of the selections, (we'll leave it at that) we thought we would take it a step further.

Proud voters on the annual MBWA All-Met Awards five years running, we offer a prelude to the 2017-18 season with our preseason recognitions for the area's best, along with predictions on how the hardware will ultimately be presented in March. Without further ado:

All-Met Preseason First Team (in alphabetical order)
Khadeen Carrington, Seton Hall
Angel Delgado, Seton Hall (Preseason Player of the Year)
Tyler Nelson, Fairfield
Shamorie Ponds, St. John's
Justin Wright-Foreman, Hofstra

Analysis: Seton Hall's dynamic duo of point guard Carrington and reigning Haggerty Award winner Delgado will lead the Pirates to a banner season that should, if all goes according to plan, serve as a fitting coda to their four years in South Orange. It would not be the least bit surprising to see Kevin Willard's team threaten to crack the Top 15 in the polls at some point this season, perhaps playing their way into one of the top 16 overall seeds come March and a possible NCAA Tournament destination in Pittsburgh, the closest opening round venue to the area. Across the Hudson River, Ponds is on the precipice of a breakout sophomore campaign at St. John's, and the addition of Justin Simon should make the Brooklyn native more dangerous off the ball as he and his running mate, Marcus LoVett, have been unleashed by Chris Mullin to be more proficient scorers for a Red Storm team with tremendous upside. Elsewhere, Nelson has already begun his senior year at Fairfield with Preseason Player of the Year honors in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, and the Massachusetts native should be among the leading scorers in the MAAC once again for a Stags roster that is one of several contenders in a wide open league. Finally, Wright-Foreman had a monstrous sophomore year on Long Island last season, becoming the latest in a long line of scoring guards that Joe Mihalich seems to develop better than any of his counterparts. Now the face of a Hofstra team that features enough weapons to make a deep run into March, the Queens native is a dark horse for Player of the Year honors in the Colonial Athletic Association as well.

All-Met Preseason Second Team (in alphabetical order)
Marcus LoVett, St. John's
Desi Rodriguez, Seton Hall
Corey Sanders, Rutgers
Micah Seaborn, Monmouth
Rich Williams, Manhattan

Analysis: Much like Ponds, LoVett is in line for an increase in productivity as a sophomore, in large part due to Justin Simon coming on board to serve as the primary facilitator for St. John's this season. Rodriguez should benefit from enough mismatches to provide his unique blend of highlight-reel dunks and long-range shots while keeping Carrington and Delgado consistent in Seton Hall's offense. For their in-state rivals, Sanders has already been described by Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell as someone who will be more versatile going into his junior season after the Scarlet Knights were able to sign Geo Baker, whose floor game has already drawn raves for a level of stability far beyond his age. Staying in the Garden State, Seaborn could very well be a first team honoree by the end of the season on a Monmouth team that retains its status as a legitimate championship contender in the MAAC even without the services of Justin Robinson. Now fully recovered from a torn meniscus suffered late in the season, Seaborn becomes the unquestioned leader for the Hawks, and should be able to impart his experience on a group of hungry young talents and role players now charged with the responsibility of stepping up. Speaking of experience and returning from a torn meniscus, Williams is in Riverdale for one last go-round as a fifth-year senior on a Manhattan team that returns the most seasoned roster in its conference, one that is eager to erase two years of agonizing defeats and humility with what the Jaspers hope is their third MAAC championship in five seasons.

All-Met Preseason Third Team (in alphabetical order)
Darian Anderson, Fairleigh Dickinson
Stevie Jordan, Rider
Rickey McGill, Iona
Myles Powell, Seton Hall
Zane Waterman, Manhattan

Analysis: Anderson is a worthy Preseason Player of the Year recipient in the Northeast Conference whose ability often gets lost in the shuffle because of the bigger programs operating within the shadow of FDU, a perennial NEC favorite under head coach Greg Herenda. Look for Anderson, who opens his season at Seton Hall Friday, to make an impact early and often as the Knights seek a second league title in three years. If not for a suspension in the middle of the season last year, Jordan likely would have been the MAAC Rookie of the Year, and now takes the next step for Kevin Baggett as the leader of a Broncs team projected by many to surprise in the MAAC. Staying within the conference, McGill demonstrated his value to Iona's championship core with a coming-out party in the second half of the season one year ago, and his evolution as a pass-first point guard with above average scoring tendencies makes the Gaels the team to beat once again. Waterman's ability to stretch the floor, then come off a pick-and-roll to shoot a three-pointer gives Manhattan a unique option in Steve Masiello's fast-paced system, and the Jaspers are counting on his efficiency to guide them back to the top of the league. It will be of importance for the senior forward to stay out of foul trouble, however. Finally, Powell's insertion into the starting lineup this season will make him a greater piece to the puzzle for Seton Hall. Based on early returns from the Pirates' two exhibition contests, the sophomore's defensive game has taken flight, which will only be a greater X-factor as the year goes on.

Award Predictions
Haggerty Award: Shamorie Ponds. Delgado will be the odds-on favorite after leading the nation in rebounding last season and garnering All-America honors, but if Ponds lives up to the hype; and there is no indication he will not, St. John's will have a postseason appearance as a reward leading up to their prodigious backcourt talent having the area's top distinction bestowed upon him.

Coach of the Year: Kevin Willard, Seton Hall. Winner of this award two years running, the Pirates' performance should be enough to give the once-embattled head man his third straight honor.

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