CANMORE, Alta. — The 2017-18 season tips off on November 10th, which means the final month without college basketball is finally upon us.
Fans all across the country are gearing up for another exciting college basketball season, and with the recent scandal involving the FBI and several power conference programs across the NCAA, the level of anticipation is through the roof.
Conference preview pieces are starting to circulate from various media outlets, and conferences are hosting their annual media days and announcing their preseason polls and award winners. It’s always interesting to see how coaches and media rank teams in their respective conferences.
With the season right around the corner, we are starting to release our Preseason Player of the Year awards for each conference, along with three All-Conference teams. Picked at random, we will release two sets of awards each day.
Up first is one of the conferences that we are most excited for this season. The Southland Conference boasts a plethora of talented players, and the top half of the conference will be extremely competitive this season.
The case could be made for four or five teams to win the conference, and people wouldn’t think you were totally crazy.
Below, you can find our Preseason Southland Player of the Year, and our All-Southland Conference teams for the upcoming season!
2017-18 Player of the Year: Colton Weisbrod, Lamar Cardinals
In his first season with the Cardinals, Weisbrod quickly became a fan favourite. He is an impact player on the glass on both ends of the floor, and is highly effective in the paint on the offensive end. After a strong year at Lamar State College-Port Arthur back in 2015-16, where he was named an NJCAA All-American, he picked up where he left off as a junior with the Cardinals.
Weisbrod led the team in both scoring and rebounding a season ago, averaging 15.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per contest. He led the Cardinals in scoring on 16 occasions, and in rebounds 20 times. Weisbrod also recorded 10 double-doubles, which was one off of the conference-high mark of 11.
He was named to the All-Southland Conference First Team after his impressive junior season, and was named to the 2017-18 Preseason All-Southland Conference First Team by the league. Expectations surrounding the 6’5” forward are high this season, but all signs point to another big year for the native of Nederland, TX.
Lindy’s Sports also tabbed Weisbrod at the Southland Conference Player of the Year.
2017-18 All-Southland Teams
Leading the way on our All-Southland Conference First Team is senior forward Colton Weisbrod, who is our Preseason Player of the Year in the league. The 6’5” forward will be looking to lead Lamar to another impressive season, and advance back to the post-season for the second year in a row.
Senior guard Ehab Amin led the nation in steals per game last season, averaging 3.4 thefts per contest. He racked up a total of 124 steals over the course of the season. While he’s regarded as one of the top defenders in the country, Amin can also hold his own on the offensive end of the floor, as he averaged 16.9 points per game and shot 46.2% from the field. With Rashawn Thomas having moved onto the professional ranks, Amin is now the go-to guy for the Texas A&M-CC Islanders.
One guy that we’re really high on this season is junior guard Marlain Veal. Despite standing at 5’9”, the native of New Orleans, LA is one of the most athletic guards in the country. He can jump out of the gym and throw down some exciting dunks, and his dunk videos have gone viral over Twitter this off-season. Veal does a little bit of everything for the Southeastern Louisiana Lions, as he averaged 14.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.8 steals per game last season.
Rounding out the back court is one of the more consistent scorers in the nation. Jordan Howard has consistently been among the nation’s leaders in scoring over his career, as he has never averaged less than 15.7 points per game over his three seasons with the Central Arkansas Bears. The native of Chandler, AZ is effective from all areas of the floor, evident by his shooting percentages last season. Howard shot 43.1% from the field, 44.5% from three point range, and 88.9% from the free throw line, all of which were career-high marks.
Year after year, the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks seem to be near the top of the Southland Conference. Even though their stranglehold of the conference took a slight step back last season, they still advanced to the NCAA Tournament, and forward T.J. Holyfield was a big factor all season long. The 6’8” forward led the Lumberjacks in scoring, averaging 11.7 points to go along with his 7.2 rebounds. He was one of six players to average at least 8.0 points per contest in 2016-17.
This off-season, Jalan West was granted an unprecedented seventh year of eligibility by the NCAA, as he has missed each of the last two seasons due to injury. He was one of the top scoring guards in the country before he got bit by the injury bug. If he can regain his old form, we will look extremely foolish in putting him on the All-Southland Second Team.
Guard Jalin Hart helps give the Incarnate Word Cardinals one of the more underrated offensive groups in the Southland Conference. Hart averaged 15.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game in his first season at the Division I level. Hart also shot 51.7% from the field, showcasing his effectiveness on the offensive end.
The one knock on John Dewey III last season surrounded ball security, as he committed 110 turnovers (3.2 per game). Outside of that, he had himself a strong first season with the Sam Houston State Bearkats, averaging 10.0 points and 4.9 assists per contest. With Dakarai Henderson having graduated, the Bearkats will look for Dewey III to take another step forwards in 2017-18.
Jalone Friday is the only player who isn’t a junior or senior to make one of our All-Southland Conference teams. He was named the Southland Conference Freshman of the Year last season, marking the second straight for the Abilene Christian Wildcats (Jaylen Franklin in 2015-16). Friday averaged 13.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest, and we expect both of those numbers to improve in season two.
Rounding out the All-Southland Second Team is a big man who won’t blow you away with his statistical numbers, but is as solid as they come in the paint in the Southland Conference. Josh Ibarra is entering his senior season with the Houston Baptist Huskies, and it’s time he gets his due on a national level. He hasn’t shot worse than 59.5% from the field in his three seasons in the NCAA, and he averaged career-highs in both points (12.0) and rebounds (7.2) per game last season in just over 24 minutes of court time per night.
Jaren Lewis is yet another talented player on an Abilene Christian roster that will turn heads this season. He finished tied with Friday for the team lead in scoring last season, averaging 15.3 points per contest.
In his first season at Lamar, Joey Frenchwood emerged as one of the premier point guards in the conference. He averaged 8.5 points per game, and finished with a 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio (144 assists to 80 turnovers).
Quietly, the Nicholls Colonels have assembled a talented, senior-heavy back court group, and senior Jahvaughn Powell leads the way for head coach Richie Riley. Powell averaged 11.9 points and 5.0 assists last season, his first with the Colonels.
After advancing to the NCAA Tournament last season, the New Orleans Privateers are looking for a new leader after Christavious GIll graduated. Look no further than senior forward Travin Thibodeaux, who put together a career-year last season (8.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game).
Rounding out the Third Team is junior big man Ishmael Lane. He picked up right where he left off following his freshman campaign, and gives the Northwestern State Demons a legitimate threat in the paint. He averaged 11.0 points and a team-high 6.2 rebounds per contest, and he is the team’s top returning scorer from last season.
– T. Bennett