OVC Player of the Year Race
OVCHoops.com does not decide or even influence the adidas OVC Player of the Year honor. This is merely an independent assessment of the season to date along with a prediction of the outcome.
- Evan Bradds Bradds entered the season as one of 10 players selected to the Preseason All-OVC Men’s Basketball Team. Coming of a 2nd team All-OVC season, Bradds was poised for another productive year. Still, Bradds’ junior season has to be beyond the expectations of his supporters.The increasingly physical forward is shooting 71.4% from the floor. And while production is not the only thing, Bradds allows his teammates a slightly bigger shooting window. Defenses must either double down or suffer a unbearable fate. Fellow Belmont starters like Craig Bradshaw, Taylor Barnette, Amanze Egekze, and Austin Luke have all benefited from Bradds’ blossoming. In fact, Tennessee State Head Coach Dana Ford admitted his gameplan to single-mark Bradds was a miscalculation.
- Torrance Rowe Tennessee Tech typically finished in the middle of the pack. Reason for optimism around Cookeville exists because Rowe is a cold-blooded finisher. No challenge frightens the senior guard. Unlike Bradds, Rowe was not predicted to be a league leader by the conference’s coaches. Still, Rowe is fourth in scoring, third in free throw percentage, fourth in assists, and third in minutes played. Rowe is the best late-game player in the league and nobody makes more big plays in big moments than Rowe.
- Tahjere McCall When TSU guard Tahjere McCall scored 31 against Lipscomb, the opposing coach was flabbergasted. He admitted that he did not expect it, but frankly nobody expected McCall to score 15+ points. Now teams do expect it because McCall scores big every night out. Sunday he jumped to 3rd in OVC-only scoring with 32 at Belmont. McCall has tremendous balance in the lane, and finishes with a deliciously soft touch.
- Wayne Langston Of all the members on the list Langston at #4 should be most controversial. He is averaging 14.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg. In OVC-play Langston scores at a 13.9 ppg clip. His rebounding is better at 7.9 rpg. Langston’s status gets a bump because his team is challenging or an OVC West crown, and he is integral to the Murray State Racer success. He must play well for them to win, and Langston usually does.
- Keron Deshields Tennessee State’s ascendance has been incredible. From season’s jump Deshields has commanded the ball and respect. He will not allow his teammates to slack off, and he instantly gives support when peers thrive. Deshields is largely unguardable in OVC play when he takes the ball to the basket. The only slasher on his level is teammate McCall.
- Chris Horton Horton is doing everything asked by Austin Peay Head Coach Dave Loos and inspiring his teammates along the way. Facing Lipscomb he nearly set a national record for most FG’s made without a miss in a single game. Horton’s shooting percentage is up over 13% from last season. If anything, Horton could take more shots. His decision-making rivals Bradds for the best in the OVC. Like McCall, Horton is an impact defender. This gives him a bump up. Truthfully, the team’s record is the only thing keeping Horton from top three.
- Jarelle Reischel Reischel amassed quite a trove of points in the pre-conference portion of the schedule. The German Acrobat lead the entire conference in scoring as January arrived (19.6 ppg). In conference play, the versatile wing has been up-and-down. Sunday Reischel pumped in 25 points against Tennessee Tech. He has lost his outside shooting touch a smidge. Still, his 17.6 ppg in OVC-play is good enough for 7th. At his peak, Reischel was top 2 in the MVP race along with Rowe.
- Nick Mayo The Maine Man, Mayo continues to dominate on the blocks. With sharp feet, and strong shoulders the freshman forward now has seven Freshman of the Week honors. He is a wunderkind at EKU, scoring 18.0 ppg in OVC games.
- Josh Robinson Robinson is admittedly a longshot, but his remarkable buzzer-beater last week vaulted him in to the mentions. The sophomore guard will contend for this honor in the years to come. For now he is assuming a large burden of scoring for an average Austin Peay squad.