NCAA Men: 2015 All-Australian Awards
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Australians once again made their mark in the 2014/15 NCAA Division I season. There were many great stories such as Peter Hooley and the Albany Great Danes run to the NCAA Tournament, and many great individual performances such as Venky Jois’ back-to-back 38 point games for Eastern Washington. While there is unlikely to be any of this year’s crop hearing their named called out at this year’s NBA Draft, a number are set to embark on professional careers and the rest are looking ahead to next season and a chance to elevate their games to new levels.
New Mexcio’s Cameron Bairstow who is now a Chicago Bull was our pick as Aussie Player of the Year for 2013/14. My pre-season predictions had Boise State’s Anthony Drmic as earning the same accolade this season – that was before he was struck down by a season-ending injury. By the half-way mark of the year, I had elevated Eastern Washington’s Venky Jois to the top of the table as the best performed Aussie to that point. Now I take the plunge and hand out my season-ending All-Australian awards to close out a highly entertaining 2014/15 year of Aussies in college.
Bonus: Each player’s season stats are all listed for you in the one spot (scroll down)!
Player of the Year
Dan TRIST | Lafayette
Venky Jois was the early frontrunner for the award before going down with an ankle injury, and while he made an admirable return to form, those games he missed and the time it took to regain full fitness played against him. My preseason choice Anthony Drmic was also well in contention before his season was derailed by a season ending injury. Jeromie Hill also put a case forward to be considered, however I could not look past Lafayette’s senior forward Dan Trist who had a career-year and came a close second for the Patriot League Player of the Year award.
Lafeyette’s Trist was in my pre-season All-Australian Second Team and moved up into second place behind Jois at the mid-way point of the year in my rankings. By the end of the season, Trist was the most consistent and influential player for his respective side in delivering on court team success.
Trist led all the Aussies in scoring this past season, delivering a Patriot League best 17.3 points per game at a 57.6% clip from the field that was second only to Jois (for players scoring more than 10 points per game). He was also the 4th best in rebounding with 6.7 rebounds per game, collecting 4 player of the week awards on his way to being named a unanimous selection to the All-Conference First Team.
His accomplishments did not end there, with Trist collecting his 1,000th career-point during the season, moving into the top-10 in Lafayette’s all-time record books for scoring. With an array of highly effective post moves, the imposing forward helped lead the Leopards to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000 and was named All-Tournament First Team. In his one and only appearance in the NCAA Tournament across his 4 years of college, Trist would not disappoint, delivering 18 points and 9 rebounds as his Leopards fell to number 1 seed Villanova.
For his outstanding season, Trist accepted an invitation to the 2015 Portsmouth Invitational Tournament and was Australia’s sole representative. He started all three games and averaged a respectable 7.7 points and 5.3 rebounds as he now looks ahead to a promising professional career.
Most Improved Player
Jeromie Hill | Texas San Antonio
This was the toughest award to hand out this year. So many players improved from last season that it made my job very difficult. In the end, Jeromie Hill of Texas San Antonio was hard to look past, especially given his return from a serious knee injury.
Returning as a 5th year senior after red-shirting the previous season due to injury, Hill returned bigger and better than before for the Roadrunners. Lifting his output from 13.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in his previous season, he would go on to deliver a team-best 16 points and 8.1 rebounds per game en-route to being named to the All-Conference USA First Team.
While the Roadrunners finished mid-table in Conference USA, they arguably exceeded expectations largely thanks to the exploits of their talented sharp-shooting forward from Queensland. Hill recorded an impressive 9 double-doubles during the season, and scored in double-digits in all but two games. He highlighted his potential with a career-high 36 point explosion against Marshall and contributed six 20-point or more games throughout the year.
Coming back from a knee injury is not easy at the best of times, however Hill was outstanding to demonstrate that he should be able to translate his game to the professional ranks as he looks towards his first contract.
Defensive Player of the Year
Venky JOIS | Eastern Washington
Venky Jois of Eastern Washington repeats as The Pick and Roll Defensive Player of the Year, holding out Hartford’s All-America East Defensive Team member Corban Wroe to back up the award he garnered in 2014.
Jois was arguably the most complete Australian player in the 2014/15 season and was named to the All-Big Sky Conference First Team despite missing 4 games and parts of others due to injury. While he made an obvious impact offensively (including back-to-back 38 point games), defensively he played well above his size to beat bigger opponents on a consistent basis. While he pulled down 7.7 rebounds per game, it was his ability to protect the rim that continued to draw attention.
He swatted away an Australian best 2.2 blocks per game this season, including 5 games where he recorded 5 blocks or more – topped off by a 7 block performance against Idaho State. He now holds Eastern Washington’s all-time school record for blocked shots. For good measure, he also stole the ball 1.2 times per game, just a little behind Hugh Greenwood’s 1.5 per game.
Freshman Player of the Year
Emmett NAAR | Saint Mary’s
Emmett Naar of Saint Mary’s held off a strong challenge from the Big South Conference’s All-Freshman Team member Xavier Cook of Winthrop to earn Freshman Player of the Year honours.
Naar took almost everyone by surprise with his blistering start to the season where he was at one stage ranked in the top 20 best in the nation with 6.8 assists per game. While Naar cooled off somewhat and moved from a starting role to 6th man off the bench, he was my pick as the benchmark for all Australian first year players in college hoops this season.
Earning selection to the West Coast Conference All-Freshman team, Naar provided on court leadership and maturity beyond his years for the Gaels. The point guard was able to provide 6.3 points per game at almost 40% from the field, an even better 45% from beyond the three-point line, and 80% from the charity stripe. Exhibiting some fine playmaking skills, he dished out 3.9 assists with 2 rebounds per game.
Guard | Hugh GREENWOOD | New Mexico
Guard | Peter HOOLEY | Albany
Forward | Venky JOIS | Eastern Washington
Forward | Dan TRIST | Lafayette
Forward | Jeromie HILL | Texas-San Antonio
Dan Trist as Player of the Year, along with fellow All-Conference First Team recipients Jeromie Hill and Venky Jois form the front court of the All-Aussie First Team. In going with three forwards, it relegated another All-Conference First Team player in Sam Rowley to the second team for a balanced line-up. As All-Mountain West Conference Third Team member, Hugh Greenwood of New Mexico retains his place in the team he was named in last season. Joining him is Peter Hooley who despite missing 8 games, was too good to leave out.
Guard | Corban WROE | Hartford
Guard | Anthony DRMIC | Boise State
Forward | Sam ROWLEY | Albany
Forward | Nick DUNCAN | Boise State
Center | Majok DENG | Louisiana-Monroe
Sam Rowley should consider himself unlucky to miss selection to the First Team given the abundance of talented Aussie big men this past season. Even though he only played half the season, Anthony Drmic for mine still did enough to warrant his place in the team as a clear standout for the Aussie shooting guards and swingman from this past season. All-America East Defensive Team member Corban Wroe joins Drmic in the back court, while Nick Duncan closed out his sophomore year on a high by being named to the All-Mountain West Tournament Team and nobody was good enough to edge him out. Junior transfer Majok Deng makes his way into the team after being named to the All-Sub Belt Conference Third Team, providing 10 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.
Guard | Emmett NAAR | Saint Mary’s
Guard | Ben WILSON | Idaho State
Forward | Sam MCBEATH | Nicholls State
Forward | Xavier COOKS | Winthrop
Center | Mangok MATHIANG | Louisville
My Third team contains Louisville’s Elite 8 center Mangok Mathiang who I had predicted would be in contention for the All-Aussie First Team this year. Freshmen Emmett Naar and Xavier Cooks forced their way into the team as standout first year players, while Nicholls State’s Sam McBeath and Idaho State State’s Ben Wilson round out the side and top 15 Aussies in action this season. Wilson was a regular starter for the Bengals with 6.9 points and over 3 rebounds and 3 assists per game, while McBeath was effective for the Colonels with 9.3 points and 6.7 rebounds an outing.
Do you agree with Damian’s selections? We would love your feedback so please share a comment.
Damian Arsenis joined The Flag Flyers’ Chris Tyler and Lachie Millar on Melbourne sports radio station SEN 1116 on Tuesday, 14 April 2015 to round out the 2014/15 college basketball season and the Aussie men (from 41:47).
2014/15 Season Stats
|22||Felix VON HOFE||EWU||15.5||5.1||41.1%||41.2%||57.9%||1.4||0.6||0.3||0.3||0.5|
Thank you for loving Aussie hoops! From Kein, Damian and #TeamPnR