CANMORE, Alta. — Erick Neal came into the 2017-18 season as one of the best kept secrets in the NCAA.
After the first four weeks of the season, it’s safe to say that his secret is out.
The senior point guard from Dallas, TX has been grabbing headlines all season for the UT Arlington Mavericks, who sit at 7-1 and are widely considered the team to beat in the Sun Belt. Neal leads the country in assists per game, at 10.3, and he is the only player to average double-digit assists per night out.
He posted double-digit assists in six straight games to open the 2017-18 season, a stretch that included four double-doubles and one triple-double. He kicked off the past week with the triple-double performance, and helped the Mavericks extend their winning streak to five games when the week was over.
For his efforts this past week, a stretch of three games that saw him stuff the stat sheet, UT Arlington guard Erick Neal was selected by the fans as the College Court Report Fan-Voted Player of the Week for November 27 – December 3, 2017!
He received 60% of the votes in our weekly Twitter poll, beating out Josh Ibarra (Houston Baptist), Tramaine Isabell (Drexel), and Bryson Scott (Fort Wayne) for the honour.
Coming into the week, Neal had a streak of five straight double-doubles to open the season, and was looking to continue his strong play while also looking to help extend the team’s winning streak.
Up first for the Mavericks was a date with the Texas Dallas Comets on Monday. Without Kevin Hervey in the lineup, Neal and big man Johnny Hamilton went to work for the Mavericks, guiding them to a 73-53 win.
Neal recorded his second career triple-double in the win, posting 10 points, 10 rebounds, and a career-high 13 assists. It was his sixth straight game with double-digit assists to open the season.
Two nights later, the Mavericks welcomed the Rice Owls to town for the second of three straight games against instate opponents. Neal’s streak of double-digit assist games came to an end, but the Mavericks held down home court to the tune of a 69-49 win over Rice.
In the win, Neal recorded just five points, on 2-of-9 shooting from the field. He did, however, record five rebounds and eight assists to help lead UT Arlington to the victory.
UT Arlington closed out the week on Saturday with a visit from the North Texas Mean Green. While he failed to record double-digit assists for the second game in a row, Neal regained his scoring touch, while still flirting with a double-double.
In the Mavericks’ 65-60 win over North Texas, Neal recorded 20 points, five rebounds, five steals, and three assists. It was his lowest assist total in a game since February 18th, 2017, when he dished out just one against the Georgia State Panthers.
For the week, Neal averaged a box score stuffing line of 11.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 8.0 assists, and 3.3 steals per game. He struggled a bit from the field, shooting a combined 12-of-37 (32.4%) from the floor, but he did shoot a perfect 9-of-9 from the free throw line.
Neal is the nation’s leader in assists per game this season, averaging 10.3 dimes per contest. He’s also shooting an impressive 95% from the free throw line (19-of-20). Across the country, Neal is regarded as one of the top point guards in the NCAA, regardless of team or conference.
He had all of his talents on display over the past week, and the fans took notice. Neal’s following seems to be growing with each passing game, and for good reason. Now, him and his teammates want to get as many fans out to their home games as possible to support the entire team. The Mavericks are riding a five-game win streak, and could be on the verge of a special season.
If you’re ever in Arlington and the Mavericks have a home game, you better go check out the team before it’s too late.
On the heels of a week that saw him record a triple-double and lead his team to three wins, UT-Arlington guard Erick Neal was selected by fans as the College Court Report Fan-Voted Player of the Week for November 27 – December 3, 2017!
– T. Bennett
Nov. 20 – 26, 2017: Devin Harris, Jacksonville Dolphins
Nov. 13 – 19, 2017: Isaiah Reese, Canisius Golden Griffins
Nov. 10 – 12, 2017: Zach Johnson, Florida Gulf Coast Eagles
**College Court Report Player of the Week recipients are selected from teams in the following conferences:
America East, Atlantic Sun, Atlantic 10, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Conference USA, Horizon League, Ivy League, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot League, Southern, Southland, Summit League, SWAC, Sun Belt, West Coast, and WAC