Antoine Davis beats out Love as Player of the Year; NKU duo leads second team
Detroit Mercy’s electric scoring sophomore Antoine Davis is the HoriZone Roundtable Preaseason Player of the year. Davis earned the honors as one of six players returning that earned a spot on the 2019 All-League first and second teams. The other returning All-League picks are first teamers Loudon Love (Wright State) and Xavier Hill-Mais (Oakland) and Second Team picks Tarkus Ferguson (UIC), Darius Quisenberry (Youngstown State) and Bill Wampler (Wright State).
One of the league’s departures also had a significant impact on the Preseason All-League teams, as Drew McDonald’s graduation opens the door for two of his former teammates to be selected as they take over the reins this year. Jalen Tate and Tyler Sharpe are the top returning scorers for the Norse, and with a supporting cast that appears good enough to keep NKU in contention both were regulars on voters’ ballots.
While the first eight spots on the All-League teams were all fairly consistent between voters, the last two presented a lot more variation. Seniors Brad Brechting (Oakland) and JayQuan McCloud (Green Bay) edged out the competition with an anticipated balance of increasing roles due to departures and overall team success.
HoriZone Roundtable All-Horizon League Teams
|* Antoine Davis, G, Detroit Mercy (Soph.)
|Jalen Tate, G/F, Northern Kentucky (Senior)
|Loudon Love, C, Wright State (Junior)
|Tyler Sharpe, G, Northern Kentucky (Senior)
|Xavier Hill-Mais, F, Oakland (Senior)
|Bill Wampler, F, Wright State (Senior)
|Tarkus Ferguson, G, UIC (Senior
|Brad Brechting, C, Oakland (Senior)
|Darius Quisenberry, G, Youngstown (Soph.)
|JayQuan McCloud, G, Green Bay (Senior)
|* HoriZone Roundtable Player of the Year
Antoine Davis is the HoriZone Roundtable Player of the Year after finishing third in the nation with 26.1 points per game as a freshman last year. Davis was far and away the Horizon League’s leading scorer last year. While it seems unlikely that he could do mch to improve on those numbers this year, the improvements that typically come for sophomores may be related to his ability to distribute the ball more effectively. To be a legitimate NBA prospect, the 6-foot-1, 170 pound guard will need to improve dramatically on his 1.09:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
The biggest factor determining whether Davis can follow through as the Horizon League Player of the Year will be how his team performs. If the Titans tank, many voters will likely have a hard time picking him no matter how absurd his production is. For now, HoriZone Roundtable staff is comfortable selecting him as the strong favorite to with the award while selecting Detroit Mercy to finish seventh in the league.
Loudon Love gave Antoine Davis the strongest push for Player of the Year honors. The 6-foot-9 center is the unquestioned best player on the overwhelming favorite to win the Horizon League, so it’s no surprise that he’d get serious consideration for the top spot. The departure of 2019 Player of the Year Drew McDonald not only clears the way for Love to take the title of the league’s best post player, but it shifts Northern Kentucky’s focus from a post-oriented team to a perimeter-oriented team and gives Love an easier matchup on both sides of the ball when the teams go head-to-head.
Love was the league’s Freshman of the Year and a Second Team All-League performer in 2018 and earned First Team All-League honors last year. The Raiders lost four key players, but appear to have reloaded the roster and Love should be looked to as a steadying force while the team becomes cohesive.
Xavier Hill-Mais was the only player other than Davis or Love to be a unanimous First Team All-League pick. Hill-Mais averaged 18.3 points and 7.2 rebounds for Oakland last year. With the departure of leading scorer Jaevin Cumberland, Hill-Mais should be Oakland’s go-to player on a nightly basis this year. He’s also likely to benefit from being a part of the Horizon League’s strongest duo of post players. With 6-foot-11 Brad Brechting next to him, teams won’t be able to focus both of their big men on Hill-Mais without being punished by an easy layup.
Tarkus Ferguson did a bit of everything for fourth place UIC last season. The 6-foot-4 guard led UIC in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks last year; but the Flames still manage to boast a balanced backcourt featuring Godwin Boahen and Marcus Ottey.
While Boahen and Ottey might make it harder for Ferguson to put up the stats needed to be First Team All-League their presence is a big part of why our staff picked UIC second in the preseason poll. That in turn allows Ferguson to be the stat-stuffing star of a league contender. While he might not have the luck needed to be the Flames’ leader in every meaningful counting stat again, he’ll be in a position to show he’s a vital piece of every aspect of one of the best teams in the Horizon League.
Darius Quisenberry wraps up the HoriZone Roundtable’s First Team All-Horizon League picks. The 6-foot-1 sophomore was eased into a heavy workload last year, and by the middle of the season he was a threat to go off for 20 points on any night. With a 30 minute per game workload now very much in play; don’t be surprised if Quisenberry improves on his team-leading 13.8 points, 3.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Youngstown State returns its entire starting lineup from 2019, opening the door for an improved conference record to solidify Quisenberry’s First Team selection.
Jalen Tate was the most confounding player for HoriZone Roundtable staff to place on the All-League teams. While he was one of the five players selected to the First Team most often, he appeared on the eighth most ballots and as a result wound up a member of the Second Team.
Tate has an argument as the most versatile player in the league. He’s one of the two returning members of the league’s 2019 All-Defensive Team and averaged 13.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. With 2019 Horizon League Player of the Year Drew McDonald’s graduation, Tate should be positioned to play a bigger role in the Norse offense.
Tyler Sharpe is another newcomer to the list. Tate’s Northern Kentucky teammate also seems to have benefitted from Drew McDonald’s graduation. Like Tate, he didn’t make either of the All-League teams last year but found himself solidly on the HoriZone Roundtable Preseason Team. Unlike Tate, there was less debate about Sharpe and he was a unanimous All-League selection among the staff.
Sharpe is NKU’s top returning scorer from last year, when he averaged 14.4 points per game. Because of McDonald’s graduation, the Norse offense looks like it will run through perimeter players this season. Fortunately for Sharpe and Tate, Northern Kentucky still appears to have enough pieces to be a contender in the league and put both in a position to be All-League performers this year.
Bill Wampler is the final returning 2019 All-Horizon League selection, and like the other five he was a unanimous pick in our preseason poll. As Loudon Love’s running mate at Wright State, the 6-foot-6 senior averaged 14.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game in 2019.
While Love seems to have taken a bit of a hit from the all-around balance of the Wright State roster, Wampler took a much bigger hit. Several voters had him as one of the last two selections on the team, and most had him below at least one of the Northern Kentucky duo that wasn’t selected All-League last year. It’s an interesting development given that Wright State does have a lot of production to replace while also being the overwhelming pick to win the league. Since most of the Raiders’ departures were more defensive oriented, it’s easy to imagine Wampler putting up 15 or more points per game and nabbing some rebounds that would’ve gone to Parker Ernsthausen last year to finish with an even stronger stat line in 2020.
Brad Brechting‘s strong finish to his junior year was the catalyst to him earning a spot on the HoriZone Roundtable’s All-League Second team. Brechting had the least impressive 2019 stats of our All-League picks, averaging just 9.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. He didn’t have a double-double until January 31. While it’s possible that some of his votes came from voters who preferred to have a viable lineup as an All-League team, the way Brechting ended 2019 makes him a legitimate selection to the team.
That January 31 double-double was an absurd 21 point, 18 rebound performance that seemed to kick his play into overdrive. He finished with five double-doubles in Oakland’s last 11 games of the season. Like Xavier Hill-Mais, Brechting figures to see an increased offensive workload this season, and the way he established himself to finish 2019 suggests he’s going to be a consistent double-double threat going forward.
JayQuan McCloud earns the final spot on the HoriZone Roundtable All-League Second Team as the top returning scorer and distributor from a Green Bay team that finished tied for fourth in the Horizon League in 2019. Whie the Phoenix return almost all of last year’s rotation, the departure of All-League wing Sandy Cohen III leaves a big hole in the lineup. McCloud is the odds-on favorite to become Green Bay’s new primary ball handler, and as a result his numbers should increase this year. If the Phoenix can stay near the top half of the league despite Cohen’s departure, that statistical bump should give McCloud what he needs to earn the All-League honors.
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