Jarred Godfrey is the league’s overlooked star

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Purdue Fort Wayne’s go-to-guy is a Player of the Year candidate

In 2020, Jarred Godfrey averaged 15.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game on his way to being named Honorable Mention All-Summit League as a sophomore. He helped lead the Mastodons to a somewhat underwhelming 6-10 record in Summit League play.

Following second-leading scorer Brian Patrick’s transfer and third leading scorer Matt Holba’s graduation it seemed likely that Godfrey’s workload would increase this season, at least while former role players got used to being relied on to produce regularly. After leading the team in assists in his first season as the Mastodons’ primary ball handler, it also seemed possible he’d settle in as a distributor in his second season at point guard.

Nonetheless, he got little respect from league voters or in preseason publications. He wasn’t selected as a member of the official Preseason All-Horizon League team, nor did his name come up in publications making All-League predictions. Only one person voted for him in the HoriZone Roundtable Preseason All-League picks (and I’ve been waiting for the moment to post this all season after how he’s started)

Godfrey is the only player who earned some sort of All-League (or All-Conference) honors last year who didn’t wind up a Preseason All-Horizon League pick. While some of that could be attributed to Purdue Fort Wayne being new to the league, that didn’t stop voters from identifying Robert Morris forward AJ Bramah’s obvious All-League potential. More than likely, voters projected Purdue Fort Wayne to finish near the bottom of the league and underestimated how much of Patrick and Holba’s workload would go to Godfrey.

A week after he was finally held in check during Horizon League play – scoring just 14 total points all weekend against Northern Kentucky after surpassing 20 in each of his first four Horizon League games – Godfrey more than made up for it with a performance that’s sure to make him the Horizon League Player of the Week.

With a 41-point outing, Godfrey blew away his previous career-high of 28 points in Friday’s win over shorthanded UIC. It’s the second best scoring outburst for a Horizon League player this season behind D’Moi Hodge’s 46-point performance against Godfrey’s Mastodons. Not only did Godfrey score 41 points on an efficient shooting night, but he added 9 rebounds and 4 assists in a game where Purdue Fort Wayne needed every bit of production that he had to offer.

The Mastodons led 43-36 at halftime and withstood a UIC rally to pull ahead 81-70 on a Godfrey 3-pointer with 2:57 left in regulation, but a string of missed shots – including three free throws – allowed UIC to make a furious 11-0 rally and force overtime. Heading into the extra session, Godfrey and Teyvion Kirk seemed to be in a battle to determine which would be the favorite to win Player of the Week, with Godfrey scoring 33 in regulation and Kirk putting in 29.

After trading baskets with Kirk all night, Godfrey took control in overtime. He single-handedly matched UIC’s offensive output with eight points, while his teammates combined for seven points to secure the 96-89 win.

Godfrey didn’t have the same gaudy stats in Saturday’s victory, but a big part of that is that it was such an overwhelming win over a UIC squad missing four key players that he didn’t need to. He wound up the Mastodons’ leading scorer with 16 points despite playing just 25 minutes and being subbed out for good with about five minutes to play and Purdue Fort Wayne up by nearly 30 points. The Mastodons went on to win 88-55. It’s just the third time Godfrey has been held under 20 points in Horizon League play, and this time it was because his team was so dominant they let him rest before he had a chance to hit that mark.

A big part of the reason for Godfrey’s jump from his sophomore year to his junior year is his shooting. Even with 0-for-8 shooting from 3-point range to start 2021 against NKU, Godfrey is hitting 45.4 percent of his long-range shots in Horizon League play. He entered the season making 30.6 percent of his 3-pointers in his career. He’s also hitting 87.8 percent of his free throws on the season – good for third in the Horizon League – after making less than 70 percent from the charity stripe heading into the season.

This dramatic jump in shooting has led to Godfrey averaging 20.5 points per game in league play, a jump of nearly five points per game over his 2020 scoring average. It’s helped him more than make up for the fact that his assist-to-turnover ratio has actually dramatically decreased in his second season as one of the team’s primary ballhandlers.

If Godfrey can keep these performances up and help Purdue Fort Wayne remain relatively competitive in the league, a First Team All-Horizon League pick seems likely. If the team can find itself near the top of the jumble of teams that’s forming in the middle of the league, he could emerge as a strong Player of the Year candidate.

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