We've hit the most exciting time of the college basketball regular season... conference play, and the Atlantic 10 looks reletively wide open one week in. Sure, it'll work itself out the deeper we get into January and February, but for now, let's talk about some players who could emerge as A-10 Player of the Year candidates come March. Here are four players who I think it could come down to:
Treveon Graham (VCU)- Graham can do it all. He scores, rebounds, creates opportunities for his teammates and plays solid defense. The Ram junior earned All-Conference preseason first team honors and is backing it up, posting 15.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Look for these numbers to increase a bit headed into the meat of A-10 play. A solid supporting cast of teammates certainly won't hurt as well.
Cedrick Lindsay (Richmond)- "What a homer, he's picking two guys who he covers in the city of Richmond." OK... make your argument against it. Of all 13 teams in the Atlantic 10, no player will determine his team's success more than Lindsay. He's averaging 19.2 points, 4.3 assists and 2.0 steals per contest. The points and steals averages are both good enough for second in the league. Lindsay has led the Spiders in scoring in 13 of the 16 games he has played, and if Richmond needs a comeback or a late rally, he's the guy who makes it happen. He's one of, if not the best guard in the A-10.
Chaz Williams (UMass)- Williams is another exceptional guard in the Atlantic 10. He scored 32 points in a UMass win over Brigham Young earlier this season and is eighth in scoring in the league. What jumps out about Williams, however, is his ability to create scoring chances for his Minutemen teammates. He leads the A-10 with 7.5 assists per game, and it's not even close. UMass has only lost one game this season and is ranked 19th in the country. It would be hard to say they'd be in the same spot without Williams.
Halil Kanacevic (St. Joseph's)- On a deep Hawks team in which he may not be the most recognizable name on the roster, the big man has made his presence known during the first half of the season. Kanacevic averages 10.7 points per game, which is fourth on his team, but his 8.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per contest help make him one of the most versatile players in the conference. Kanacevic is easily having his best year as a collegiate player, and while it's not a name that many Atlantic 10 basketball fans might know now, they should by the end of the season.
Honorable Mentions- Dwayne Evans (SLU), Jordair Jett (SLU), Ovie Soko (DUQ), Langston Galloway (SJU), Branden Frazier (FOR), Isaiah Armwood (GW)
Predicted Final Atlantic 10 Standings:
1) Saint Louis
6) St. Joseph's
7) George Washington
9) St. Bonaventure
10) George Mason
11) Rhode Island
Feel free to let me know your thoughts. Do you think I missed anybody?