The junior guard dished out 170 assists last season, which only trailed Alex Hamilton and Max Guercy in the Conference USA. Artis led both players in assists to turnover ratio at 2.46, which only trailed Nick Norton for the top in the conference.
I included Artis on the list because he has the ability to produce a 15/5/5 (PPG/RPG/APG) season, which was only done by one player in the conference last year — reigning Conference USA Player Of The Year Alex Hamilton.
The big man from Boca is the only true center on the list. I predict Coach Curry will make Delph the focal point of their offense this season, which could result in a significant boost in his stats.
Delph was third in blocks with 61 in the Conference USA, only trailing William Lee and Adrian Diaz who were two of the best shot blockers in the country.
For the big man to be in the conversation for player of the year, he’ll need to flirt with averaging a double-double, while maintaining his total blocks.
I certainly reached when I put Que on my first team All-CUSA a couple weeks back. The combination of Que having averaged double-digit points in the PAC-12 and his formidable size at the shooting guard position could lead to what I think could be a special season for the Hilltoppers.
Johnson averaged 15 points per game over the last eight games of last season.During that stretch he hit more than four 3-pointers on three different occasions.
One would have to assume that with the departure of James Kelly, combined with Marshall’s offensive style, Jon Elmore’s points and assists averages will likely go up. It wouldn’t shock me to see Elmore’s assists up more than a point under D’Antoni’s system this season.
If the Herd are in contention for a Conference USA regular season championship and Elmore performs as expected, that would be quite the argument for the West Virginia native to be considered for the award.
The campaign for Stith is fairly similar to the one for Delph. If Stith can improve his points per game, average a double-double, and maintain or increase his total blocks (61), he’ll be in the discussion at the end of the season.
I have to admit I didn’t realize the 6-foot-7 Stith had accumulated so many blocks last season. The block total is even more impressive when you consider he played in only 29 games, which was the second fewest of the top five block leaders in Conference USA.
Giddy is the real deal. Just ask Michigan State. His 3-point average of 50.3 percent on 145 attempts last season was hard to comprehend. Two players in the NCAA are ranked above Potts, but neither attempted more than 71 3-pointers last season.
What I believe could propel Potts to another level is Coach Kermit Davis potentially running him as the primary point guard. He, like Dominic Artis, could have a 15/5/5 season, which could seal the deal for Potts if he maintains his hot shooting from behind the arc.
Only three players in Conference USA have won both the defensive and player of the year awards during the same season — Kenyon Martin, Dwayne Wade, and Eddie Basden.
Barring injury, “HAHA” is all but guaranteed to repeat as defensive player of the year and could possibly eclipse the 100 blocks in a season mark.
It’s possible that he could have such a dominating defensive season that it could have him in the conversation for the player of the year award at the end of the season. He’ll need to significantly increase his points per game to make a run at it, which is not likely given UAB’s roster depth.
If Pancake strolls into Conference USA and puts up more than 20 points and 6 rebounds a game, number one on this list is in trouble. Not only is the grad transfer a prolific scorer, he’s also a solid defender accumulating 36 steals last season for Hartford.
Like I mentioned earlier with Que Johnson, there is a chance WKU could use Pancake as their point guard this season. Conference USA has given the award to a point guard three of the last four seasons.
Cokley started the first half of last season on pace to be a real contender for the award as a sophomore. However, UAB’s depth and rotation patterns resulted in him only playing a shade over 22 minutes per game, which should rise significantly this season.
If his minutes climb closer to 30 per game, his points and rebounds should see a nice jump.
An underrated part of his game is his defense. Cokley had 24 steals as a freshman and 29 as a sophomore, while blocking more than 20 shots each of those seasons.
Due to FIU’s lack of offensive fire power, there’s a pretty good chance Donte could end up leading Conference USA in scoring this season. This, and the fact he’ll be one of the few seniors on the list, should have him in contention for the award.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Donte’s numbers decrease some if Alabama graduate transfer Michael Kessens performs well for the Panthers. Regardless of Kessens, he’ll still likely be their main offensive producer.
Reggie has been a consistent top performer the past two seasons for Middle Tennessee. Sometimes Conference USA treats the player of the year award as a career achievement award when no one player clearly sticks out. I could see him winning the award for that reason.
There’s a good chance that with the departing senior forwards Middle Tennessee is losing, Reggie could end up close to averaging a double-double this season. If this happens, combined with another great regular season for the Blue Raiders, winning the award is possible.
Mark Price will lean heavily on Braxton this season. The 49ers feature two other very talented guards to share the offensive load, but all signs are pointing towards the senior’s numbers increasing significantly.
Braxton made 109 3-pointers last season – a huge jump from the 49 a season before. Buddy Hield had the most in the country last year with 127. If he can come close to that number, while averaging more than 18 points per game, it would be hard to keep him out of the conversation.
Combs is an incredible rebounder for his size. I’d have to guess he was the shortest player to average a double-double last season.
If Combs once again averages a double-double and the planets align for a very talented North Texas squad, he will be in contention.
It’s worth noting he has garnered Conference USA voter’s respect landing on the all-conference second team last season.
It’s crazy to think for the third straight season La Tech has a player in position to be named the CUSA Player Of The Year. Speedy Smith won in 2015 and Alex Hamilton won in 2016. If it wasn’t for the number one player on the list, it would be his to lose.
For McCree to take the crown he’ll need to put up some gaudy numbers. Maybe two or three 30 point games on the way to another 20-plus win season will do it. I like the chances of all those things occurring.
Marcus Evans looks to be only the third Conference USA underclassman to win player of the year. Will Barton (Memphis) won as a sophomore, Quentin Richardson (Depaul) as a freshman, and Danny Fortson (Cincinnati) as a sophomore.
As electrifying as he is on the offensive side of the ball, he is as relentless defensively. He led Conference USA in steals per game, leading to many breakaway highlight dunks.