Cream Rising to The Top
(St. Louis, MO) – Elite players are doing elite things and winning elite awards. As the Missouri Valley and Ohio Valley Conferences are heading into conference play, some of those who came into the season with some serious hype are proving the praise wasn’t baseless.
Missouri Valley Conference
Preseason ‘Player of the Year‘ and our ‘Larry – Player of the Non Conference‘, Alize Johnson led Missouri State (11-3) two a pair of victories, recording a pair of double-doubles, and has been named the ‘Player of the Week‘. His career high, five 3-pointers sparked the Bears to conference play opening win over Loyola. Johnson burned the Ramblers for 24 points and 11 rebounds.
For the second straight week, Illinois State forward Milik Yarbrough, our ‘Newcomer of the Non Conference‘, brought home the ‘Newcomer of the Week‘ award. Yarbrough topped the 20-point mark twice and led the Redbirds to two wins, including their league opener over Evansville. The 6’6 Saint Louis U transfer is the first Valley newcomer to win the weekly award. His 20 point and 28 point performances ran his streak of 20 or better scoring games to four straight.
Ohio Valley Conference
Jonathan Stark was the OVC’s preseason ‘Player of the Year‘ and has claimed his first ‘Player of the Week‘ award for his work against Auburn and Detroit. The Murray State senior posted a pair of 21 point performances, burying eight of 17 shots from long distance. The Racers (8-3) narrowly lost to the SEC’s Auburn Tigers and defeated Detroit.
Austin Peay players are making a habit of winning weekly awards. Freshmen Dayton Gumm and Terry Taylor have snagged three ‘Freshman of the Week’ awards between them and now Averyl Ugba has landed his second ‘Newcomer of the Week‘ title. The Grambling transfer averaged 13 points and seven rebounds as the Governors split a pair of games.
Sharing this week’s newcomer award with Ugba, is Eastern Kentucky’s Jackson Davis. EKU split their two games last week, and Jackson, a Butler transfer averaged 15 points and four rebounds during those two contests. This is the first weekly award for any Colonel player since Nick Mayo (Player) and Dedric Boyd (Freshman) earned such honors in the opening week of the season.
Murray State’s Ja Morant who we called the best freshman in the OVC (see ‘Who is the OVC’s Next Big Thing?), has been named this week’s ‘Freshman of the Week‘. The 6’3 guard came within one assist of a triple-double against Detroit when he scored 17 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and handed out nine assists. For the week he averaged 13 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in the Racers’ two games.
Murray’s 8-3 record is its best non-conference record since 2012 when they went 9-3.