Mondays in the MEAC: Preseason Player of the Year power rankings

In 2016-17, his first season with Bethune-Cookman, Brandon Tabb averaged a team-high 17.8 points per contest.

CALGARY, Alta. — Mondays are usually the least exciting day of the week, but we’re setting out to change that.

At College Court Report, Mondays are now all about the MEAC. Each week, we will release our ‘Mondays in the MEAC’ feature article, which will feature the happenings from the previous seven days in the conference.

From news and game recaps, to player and team profiles, we will keep you updated with what is happening for all 13 teams.

This week, the feature debuts, and we decided to look at who has the best chance to take home the Player of the Year award at year’s end.

On Sunday, we released a poll that asked fans who they thought would take home the award. We were flooded with write-in votes for players all across the conference, but the votes winner may come as a bit of a surprise to some.

Here’s the first edition of the MEAC Player of the Year Power Rankings. Several stat stuffers from last season are on the list, with the conference’s reigning leading scorer atop the list to kick things off.

Just Missed: Jordan Potts (BCU), Larry McKnight, Jr. (NCCU), Trevond Barnes (HAMP), Ryan Andino (MDES), Marcus Barham (FAMU)

#10. Dom Reid – North Carolina Central Eagles

2016-17 Stats: 14.4 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.0 apg; 43.8% FG

After a season with the Niagara Purple Eagles, Reid transferred to the Polk State College Eagles, where he filled the stat sheet and emerged as one of the top college transfers on the market this off-season.

For the Eagles, Reid averaged 14.4 points and a team-high 8.2 rebounds per contest last season. At 6’8”, the junior forward will bring some size to the front court for North Carolina Central that will be take some of the attention off a back court rotation that will be without both Pat Cole and Dajuan Graf.

#9. Desmond Williams – Florida A&M Rattlers

2016-17 Stats: 16.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.2 bpg; 48.3% FG

The performance by Williams can be summed up in three simple words: Stat Sheet Stuffer. Night in and night out, Williams was filling up the box score for the Rattlers.

He led the team in scoring, averaging 16.2 points per contest. Add in his 6.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game, plus his field goal percentage, Williams is one of the top all-round players in the conference.

The fact that the Rattlers held onto both Williams and Barham this off-season, their top two scorers, has Florida A&M on the rise in the MEAC in 2017-18.

#8. Phillip Carr – Morgan State Bears

2016-17 Stats: 16.6 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 1.1 apg; 45.9% FG (25 GP)

Standing at 6’8” and 200 pounds, senior forward Phillip Carr is arguably the top forward in the conference. Morgan State has had a strong track record of producing high quality big men in recent years, and Carr has followed in the footsteps of Ian Chiles.

In 25 games last season, Carr averaged close to a double-double per game, with 16.6 points and 9.6 rebounds per contest. He opened the season with 16 straight games with double-digit points, and had nine double-doubles in that span.

He finished the season with 22 games in double figures, and 12 double-doubles. Alongside senior guard Tiwian Kendley, the Bears have arguably the top inside-out tandem in the MEAC.

#7. Logan McIntosh – Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks

2016-17 Stats: 8.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.2 apg; 41.9% FG

His stat line won’t blow you away, and he doesn’t score a whole lot on a consistent basis, but the play of Logan McIntosh cannot be understated at Maryland-Eastern Shore.

The JUCO product had himself a strong debut season for the Hawks last year, averaging 8.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per contest. He is a strong facilitator of the offense for coach Bobby Collins, and will look to have the Hawks flying high this season.

As a junior, McIntosh had 13 games with double-digit points, and dished out four or more assists on 21 occasions. The pass-first point guard had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.87-to-1.0.

#6. Alston Jones – North Carolina Central Eagles

2016-17 Stats: 14.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 5.5 apg; 49.1% FG, 47.8% 3PT

Jones, the second JUCO transfer on the list for the Eagles, has some strong ties to another team in the MEAC this season. Last season, Jones played at Daytona State, and his coach was Ryan Ridder, who is now the head coach at Bethune-Cookman.

He averaged 14.1 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per contest, while hitting on close to 48% of his attempts from beyond the arc. As mentioned above, the Eagles are without Cole and Graf this season, so the opportunities will be there for the incoming guards to make a statement out of the gate.

Look for Jones to average a stat line that is similar to the one he put up at Daytona State a season ago.

#5. Zaynah Robinson – Norfolk State Spartans

2016-17 Stats: 13.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.5 apg, 1.6 spg; 37.9% FG

Year after year, the Norfolk State Spartans always seem to find themselves in the thick of things in the MEAC title race. Despite their losses heading into 2017-18, senior guard Zaynah Robinson will look to keep the Spartans in the upper echelon.

Last season, the native of Atlanta stuffed the stat sheet, averaging 13.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per contest. He was second on the team in scoring, behind Jonathan Wade, who has graduated from the program.

As the new top dog on offense for the Spartans, look for Robinson to have himself a career year in 2017-18. He doubled his scoring average as a junior from his sophomore campaign. While keeping with that trend will be tough as a senior, a points-per-game average of around 17 isn’t out of the question.

#4. Dexter McClanahan – Savannah State Tigers

2016-17 Stats: 16.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.1 spg; 43.6% FG

While the Savannah State Tigers will play their final season at the Division I level in 2017-18, this could be their best chance at making it back to the NCAA Tournament. Leading the way is guard Dexter McClanahan, and it’s clear that he’s a fan favourite around the Tigers’ community.

He averaged 16.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest last season, finishing second on the team in scoring behind Troyce Manassa. McClanahan finds himself in a similar situation to that of Robinson, in the fact that he’s now the top dog on offense for Savannah State.

In our poll yesterday about the MEAC Player of the Year, we were flooded with write-in votes for McClanahan. It’s always been clear that he can play ball, and we’ve been trying to give him the respect he’s due.

#3. Brandon Tabb – Bethune-Cookman Wildcats

2016-17 Stats: 17.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.3 spg; 37.9% FG

In his first season at the Division I level, Brandon Tabb quickly made a name for himself as the go-to guard at Bethune-Cookman. However, he was without the services of Jordan Potts, who led the Wildcats in scoring in 2015-16.

Tabb averaged a team-high 17.8 points per contest a year ago, while also putting up 5.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. With the Wildcats losing Brandon SuggsDiamante Lewis, and Quinton Forrest from last year’s team, Tabb will be looked upon to produce big numbers once again.

Fortunately for the 6’5” guard, he has Potts back to help shoulder the load. Add in a strong recruiting class, and the Wildcats are in for a big jump in Ridder’s first season at the helm.

#2. Jermaine Marrow – Hampton Pirates

2016-17 Stats: 15.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.0 apg; 34.3% FG

Marrow may have only been a freshman last season, but you’d be hard-pressed to tell if you just looked at his stat line and individual game performances over the course of 2016-17.

He averaged a team-best 15.6 points per game, while playing 31 minutes per night. Marrow had 25 games in which he scored in double-figures, including ten games with 20 or more points, and one 31-point performance. He scored a career-best 31 points against Florida A&M on February 20th.

Hampton is widely considered the favourite in the MEAC this season, and if they are able to live up to the expectations and Marrow avoids a sophomore slump, the award could be his to lose.

#1. Tiwian Kendley – Morgan State Bears

2016-17 Stats: 21.0 rpg, 5.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.2 spg; 37.3% FG (23 GP)

Despite playing in just 23 of the Bears’ 30 games a year ago, it’s tough to ignore the reigning scoring leader from the MEAC.

Tiwian Kendley averaged a cool 21.0 points per contest last season, his first with Morgan State, while also pulling down 5.3 rebounds and dishing out 1.3 assists per game. He put up 18 points in his debut, and followed that up with 26 points in his second game.

Against the Manhattan Jaspers on December 6th, he put up 40 points and 10 rebounds in a double-overtime victory. In total, Kendley played 23 games, and scored in double-figures in each of them.

With Carr and Kendley leading the way, this could be the year for the Bears in the MEAC. Only time will tell.

– T. Bennett

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