HoriZone Roundtable #HLMBB Awards 2024

Photo courtesy of Green Bay Athletics

POTY voting ends in a tie while Wicks, Itejere, Gohlke and Douglas are honored

The debate surrounding the two biggest Horizon League awards has been an interesting one for the HoriZone Roundtable staff. The coach and best player on the best team were vying for the top spots in each award category versus the coach and best player on the unquestioned most surprising team.

In the end, Coach of the Year finished in a fairly convincing win for Sunny Wicks of Green Bay while our voters were so split on Player of the Year that both Townsend and Reynolds got a piece of the honor. Keeyan Itejerey (Defensive Player of the Year), Jack Gohlke (Sixth Man of the Year) and David Douglas Jr. (Freshman of the Year) all won their honors much more easily.

Here’s a look at who we selected for each of the Horizon League’s annual awards:

Player of the YearTrey Townsend, Oakland &
Noah Reynolds, Green Bay
Defensive Player of the YearKeeyan Itejere, Northern Kentucky
Coach of the YearSundance Wicks, Green Bay
Sixth Man of the YearJack Gohlke, Oakland
Freshman of the YearDavid Douglas Jr., Green Bay

Player of the Year: Trey Townsend, Oakland & Noah Reynolds, Green Bay

Inspired by the 2022 Horizon League, our voters decided that the best way to solve the debate between picking the best player on the top team and picking the player whose individual stats jumped off the page the most was to pick both.

Townsend is Oakland’s unquestioned go-to-guy and the player that had far and away the biggest impact to the Golden Grizzlies in winning their first outright Horizon League regular season crown. He averaged 16.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game on the year, and his 3.0 assists per game are a clear sign that his presence created opportunities for the team’s shooters.

Reynolds has been far and away the player most responsible for Green Bay’s turnaround from finishing third from the bottom of KenPom’s national rankings last year to third place in the Horizon League this year. The Wyoming transfer’s 19.7 points and 4.7 assists per game in Horizon League play are both good for second place. The scoring becomes more impressive when you look at his efficiency, where he’s shooting 56.4 percent from inside the arc and a solid 34.7 percent from outside of it on the season. The assist totals become more impressive when you realize that the team’s second leading scorer is averaging 8.5 points per game.

Defensive Player of the Year: Keeyan Itejere, Northern Kentucky

Keeyan Itejere stepped into the role that Chris Brandon held at Northern Kentucky last year and did an impressive job in his first season. Itejere was second in the league with 1.8 blocks per game. He served as the all-important piece defending the rim in Darrin Horn’s zone and allowed NKU to finish near the top of the league standings despite projected All-League guard Sam Vinson missing the entire league season with injury.

Coach of the Year: Sundance Wicks, Green Bay

After leading Green Bay’s turnaround from 3-29 in 2023 to 18-13 in 2024, Sundance Wicks is our pick for Horizon League Coach of the Year. Despite playing without co-Player of the Year Noah Reynolds for five games, the Phoenix finished two games out of first place in the league and earned the 3-seed in the upcoming Horizon League Tournament.

Wicks came in and instantly provided Green Bay with a surge of energy, immediately lifting the enthusiasm of the fanbase back up to levels not seen since at least the Linc Darner era. He seems extremely likely to win the league’s vote for the award after their collective pick for Green Bay was eleventh place.

Sixth Man of the Year: Jack Gohlke, Oakland

Please don’t shoot the messenger. I know Gohlke started 15 of Oakland’s 31 games. I know it’ll likely be another situation like Drew Lowder last year where our voters pick a player that obviously put up the numbers to win but won’t be considered. Gohlke averaged 12.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game for Oakland. He hit 36.1 percent of his 3-pointers on the season while taking all but six shots from beyond the arc. Gohlke would be a no-brainer if he were eligible, but I think it’ll be very obvious when the awards come out that his non-league starts proved to be way too much.

When the official awards come out, look for Youngstown State’s John Lovelace Jr. or Foster Wonders to be the pick.

Freshman of the Year: David Douglas Jr., Green Bay

David Douglas Jr. was our staff’s overwhelming pick for Horizon League Freshman of the Year after averaging 8.5 points and 2.1 rebounds per game for the 3-seed Green Bay Phoenix. This marks the first time since we started making picks that our Freshman of the Year hasn’t also been an All-League pick. The league’s official vote has had the Freshman of the Year make the All-League team in every year since 2017 when Corey Allen wasn’t named to one of its two All-League teams. While Douglas didn’t get the All-League nod from our staff, the convincing margin of victory for the award is a clear sign that we feel he’s shown he can be a regular part of one of the three teams going forward.

All-League First Team

Noah ReynoldsGreen Bay
Trey TownsendOakland
Tristan EnarunaCleveland State
Marques WarrickNorthern Kentucky
Trey CalvinWright State

All-League Second Team

BJ FreemanMilwaukee
Ziggy ReidYoungstown State
DJ BurnsYoungstown State
Tanner HoldenWright State
Jayden StoneDetroit Mercy

All-League Third Team

Rasheed BelloPurdue Fort Wayne
Markeese HastingsRobert Morris
Brandon NoelWright State
Jalen JacksonPurdue Fort Wayne
Blake LampmanOakland

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