Mike Black, Albany, Sr., PG, 6’ 180:
2011-12 stats: 13.4 PPG, 4.3 APG, 109.5 ORtg
Black is the best point guard in the league, plain and simple. He quarterbacks the offense, makes precision passes on a dime, attacks the hoop ferociously, finishes in traffic, can drain it from deep. He defends. He’s a leader, a workhorse and a warrior. He’s the total package, and will likely be one of the top candidates for conference Player of the Year honors. Black makes the Great Danes go on both ends of the floor, and with the loss of Gerardo Suero and Logan Aronhalt, will need to be even bigger this season for the ‘Danes. He’s up to the task.
OBW Preseason Player of the Year/Defensive Player of the Year
Tommy Brenton, Stony Brook, R-Sr., F, 6’5” 230
2011-12 stats: 7.8 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 113.7 ORtg, 3.4 APG, 1.7 SPG
“The Bill Laimbeer of America East basketball,” as Albany head coach Will Brown likes to say, Brenton is THE enforcer in the league. Arguably the toughest and most physical player – and certainly the most hated among opposing players and fans – Brenton plays balls-out for 40 minutes a game. He’s big, strong, fast, extremely athletic, a terror on the glass and a tornado on defense. Did we mention he’s physical? Brenton has spent his first three seasons of eligibility doing all of the little things for the Seawolves, while doing it all on the defensive end, glass, and running the offense. Now the Seawolves need the point/power forward to step it up and score; with good footwork and several low-post moves, he has the ability, he needs the mindset. Brenton guards the opposition’s best offensive player, regardless of position, and changes the game defensively. His Basketball IQ and instincts are off the charts.
Alasdair Fraser, Maine, Jr., F/C, 6’7” 260
2011-12 Stats: 12.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.4 BPG
The Scottish-Wall/One-Man Army, Fraser is an immovable object once he establishes positioning on the low-blocks. Surprisingly athletic for such a broad player, Fraser has the best all-around low-post game in the conference, combining an array of low-post moves, tremendous strength, rebounding and play-side defense. He also has a soft touch and was near-automatic from mid-range when left open, so defenses can’t sag off him away from the hoop. Despite a marked increase in touches and workload from his freshman to sophomore season, Fraser’s offensive efficiency held steady. He’s the rare big man who will give you 28-30 effective and impactful minutes every night on both ends of the floor. While not a help-side defender, he routinely sends his own man’s shot packing when challenged. A huge match-up problem in the league, the only defensive strategy likely to work on him is active ball denial. He also loves haggis – seriously, I’m not kidding – so that’s gotta count for something.
Chase Plummer, UMBC, Jr., F, 6’6” 230
2011-12 stats: 15.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 34.4 Poss%, 180 FTA
Puh-puh-puh-puh-puh-puh-Plummer (Terry Crews Voice)! Plummer put up serious scoring and rebounding numbers last season despite being swarmed every time he touched the ball and getting hammered around the hoop. Plummer shouldered the heaviest load in the conference, due almost completely to the lack of any sort of supporting cast (especially in the front court). He finished second in the league in free-throw attempts, and first among returning players. He also crashes the glass at both ends, can score in a variety of ways around the hoop and behind the arc, and vastly improved his 3-point and free throw shooting from his freshman season. While his field goal percentage was poor for a front court player, it was largely due to the double and triple teams he faced on a nightly basis. His production was all the more impressive considering that he didn’t have a true point guard on the floor for the entire season. While UMBC had a terrible season last year, in many games Plummer was the only reason UMBC was even competitive. He also made noticeable strides down the stretch last season in decreasing his turnovers – the biggest flaw in his game – cutting his turnover rate by about 40 percent in his final seven games. With the addition of center Brett Roseboro and point guard Aaron Morgan, teams will no longer be able to double-team him the moment he steps off the bus, and his efficiency and shooting percentage are likely to improve drastically as a result. The safest bet of any player in the league to finish in the top 5 in scoring this season.
Brian Voelkel, Vermont, Jr., F, 6’6” 230
2011-12 stats: 4.6 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.7 SPG, 2.6 A/TO
He can’t shoot, run, jump, or move in any sort of agile or speedy manner, but Voelkel does literally everything else on the floor and has literally dominated games without scoring a point. A point/power forward, Voelkel owns the glass and has an insanely high basketball IQ. He is in all likelihood both the best passer and the best rebounder in the conference, which is a truly rare combination. Voelkel possesses every single intangible a player can have in basketball, and is what makes the Catamounts go. The quarterback on offense and defense, he’s gritty, physical, tough, and plays tremendously hard every night. He is a tremendous help-side defender who makes up for physical limitations with tremendous anticipation.