OGDEN – The Big Sky Conference will release its All-Big Sky mens basketball selections tomorrow and if history has taught us anything, Weber State has a good chance at piling up the accolades.
Ever since the Big Sky cut it’s first-team selections down to only six players during the 2006-07 season, the Big Sky regular season winner has notched two first-teamers in every season.
Last season, the Wildcats (15-1 Big Sky, 21-10 Overall) saw senior guard Kellen McCoy and freshman guard Damian Lillard each get a first-team nod. The Wildcats posted no second-teamers, and senior forward Daviin Davis was named to the third-team.
OK, enough with the history lesson.
Lillard — the Big Sky scoring leader at 19.7 points per game — is a shoe-in for first-team this season and is the front-runner for the league MVP award. However, if WSU is to get a second first-teamer, that is debatable.
Four of the other first team selections are all locks (Montana senior Anthony Johnson, Portland State senior Dominic Waters, Northern Colorado senior Devon Beitzel and Northern Arizona junior Cameron Jones) but the sixth and final spot could go to any number of Big Sky players, with two WSU studs among them.
WSU senior center Steve Panos has displayed flashes of dominance all season long, but his lack of consistency in the paint may force him down to a second-team selection. Junior transfer Franklin Session has been a stat machine, ranking in the top 10 of five different categories. For further details on his stats make sure you check out Jasen Asay’s column in tomorrow’s Standard-Examiner.
Both have shots at first-team, but WSU coach Randy Rahe has a tendency to make pushes for his seniors in All-Big Sky ballots, so Panos is more likely to get the nod, if in-fact a WSU player gets that final spot.
However, there are strong cases for other players, such as UNC’s Will Figures and Idaho State’s Amorrow Morgan, so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
Outside of Lillard, Panos and Session, WSU could even see senior guard Nick Hansen steal a third-team nod, based of his hot shooting in the season’s final few weeks.
As far as awards go, once again, WSU is in line for another MVP in Lillard, who should mark the third Wildcat to win the award in the past four seasons, joining McCoy and 2006-07 winner David Patten.
Session and Idaho State junior Broderick Gilchrest both have legitimate cases for Newcomer of the Year, but based off the Bengals’ position in the standings, I can see this tipping in Session’s favor.
While there have been solid defensive efforts from several Wildcats this season, I don’t see anyone from WSU competing in the thick Defensive Player of the Year field. Northern Colorado’s Yahosh Bonner has been shut-down on some of the league’s best players this season (including Lillard) and has a great shot at winning. Portland State’s Jamie Jones and Montana’s Brian Qvale, who have been formidable defensive foes, also have outside shots at winning. No Wildcats though.
WSU hasn’t seen considerable playing time from it’s freshmen this season, and have virtually no shot at Freshman of the Year as well. Eastern Washington’s Glen Dean is the obvious choice there anyway.
For my full All-Big Sky Team and awards predictions, click the link below.