CUSN makes their award picks for the deepest league in U SPORTS Basketball.
Player of the Year – Adika Peter-McNeilly, Ryerson Rams:
In such a deep conference, picking a POY was an incredibly tough task before we settled on Peter-McNeilly. While Carleton had an undefeated season, the system swallows individual stardom, and no other player (besides Caleb Agada, when healthy) has an impact on as many different areas of the game as Adika. He led the league in free throw percentage at 87.1%, ranked 3rd in field goals made with 132, 5th in three pointers made with 45, seventh in assists with 69 and 6th in steals with 39. What doesn’t show up on the stat sheet is his ability to get a bucket when the team truly needs one, to change the game as a vocal leader on defence, and his role as the emotional leader on one of the most talented teams in the country.
Defensive Player of the Year – Caleb Agada, Ottawa Gee-Gees:
Coach Derouin will be hopeful that Agada is back for the Gee-Gees and their quarter-final matchup on Saturday afternoon, as he is arguably the most versatile defender in the country. Agada can basically guard each position on the floor, is an excellent rebounder and his ability to force turnovers is unmatched, as he recorded multiple steals in 14 of 17 conference games he played in.
Rookie of the Year – Kadre Gray, Laurentian Voyageurs:
Gray spurned the bigger name programs recruiting him to make a name for himself with Shawn Sword’s Voyageurs, and boy did he make good on that bet, as Gray turned in the best season by a U SPORTS rookie in recent memory. Gray led the league in scoring at a touch over 23 points a game, and was also first in field goals made with 141. He was also solid defensively, and placed 7th in both assists and steals.
Coach of the Year – Chris Cheng, Nipissing Lakers:
In only their 3rd year as an official OUA program, the Lakers will make their first playoff appearance tonight as they also host their first playoff game in a date with the Queen’s Gaels. Cheng has turned the program around from 6-18 last season to 13-15 this year, while bringing in high character vets like Justin Shaver to provide on and off court leadership to be a guiding voice for the rest of the young roster.
All OUA 1st & 2nd Teams
Adika Peter-McNeilly – See above.
Kadre Gray – See above.
Manny Diressa – Considered by most the best pure scorer in the OUA, Diressa took his game to the next level in his second season as a Ryerson Ram. His ability to score in bunches is unmatched, as evidenced by his 26.4 points per 40 minutes, which ranked 4th in the conference, and he also shot over 40% from three point land and 83% from the foul line (good for 3rd in the OUA). He’s also a strong, physical defender who can guard 1’s through 4’s, and force turnovers, as his 33 steals were 9th in conference play.
Connor Wood – Although Wood is a fairly one dimensional player, he plays that one dimension extremely well as the most efficient scorer in the conference. The unorthodox shooting form hit its peak this season, as he shot over 50% from the field and from downtown, while also making the most threes in the conference with 76 makes. His points per 40 minutes was also a fantastic 28.2, which was the highest of any active OUA player this season. (Jovan Leamy “leads” the conference but only played one game.)
Devin Johnson – Johnson was the focal point of John Campbell’s first winning season at U of T this year, and was the only player besides Kadre Gray to average over 20 PPG. While only shooting 40% from the field, his percentages from beyond the arc and the line were much better, at 41% and 82%, respectively. The typical stretch 4, Johnson was also a solid defender and rebounded well, averaging 6.7 a night.
Kaza Kajami-Keane – While CANhoops.ca had Kajami-Keane as their OUA player of the year, he falls to our 2nd team. Don’t take this as a slight, as Kaza is a fantastic player, but the system at Carleton and amount of weapons they had limited his chances to put up gaudy numbers this season. That being said, he shot over 50% from the field, while also leading the league in assists at 5.5 per game, and rebounding well for a true point guard, at 4.2 per night.
Mike Rocca – Rocca came on extremely strong during the second half of the season, nearly posting triple doubles in each game the Lancers played in February. For a guy that stands under 6 feet tall he’s extremely tough and gritty on the defensive end, which translates to his rebounding as he averaged over 6 a game. Rocca also placed 2nd in assists averaging 4.5 over his 20 games played and having 90 total to just 43 turnovers.
Connor Gilmore – Gilmore was looking like the classic good stats on a bad team guy as the McMaster free-fall was a major storyline of 2017, until they put on a strong 40 minute effort in Wednesday night’s 8-9 playoff matchup in Windsor. He averaged just under 20 points per game while coming 3rd in the conference in total points at 370, as well as grabbing 9 RPG.
Dani Elgadi – Elgadi’s real impact on the game isn’t totally measured in the counting stats, as he is one of the OUA’s elite rim protectors and defenders with all of his length and ability to block shots. That’s not to say he’s all D and no O, as when his offence is clicking he’s as good an anybody in U SPORTS. Elgadi was 4th in field goal percentage at 55.2 and cleaned up on the glass, averaging over 10 boards a night and totalling 195, which was 2nd best in the league.
Bacarius Dinkins – Despite their season ending on Wednesday night at the Goldring Centre, Dinkins nabs the last spot on the 2nd team. The native Floridian was the Thunderwolves go-to guy this season as the team-wide shooting struggles doomed them, and on most nights Dinkins responded averaging a near double-double of 15.8 PPG and 9.5 RPG. His 25 blocks were also 5th in conference play.