Scott Machado, Mike Glover and Rakim Sanders all exhausted their collegiate eligibility in 2011-12, but the bulk of the MAAC’s talent will once again suit up this season. Here is a look at the conference’s top 10 returning players.
10. Rhamel Brown, Jr., Manhattan - Brown’s sophomore numbers don’t do him justice. He averaged 7.9 points, 4.9 boards and 2.5 blocks in just 19.1 minutes per game, but his efforts on the defensive end earned him MAAC Defensive Player of the Year honors. He’s long and times shots better than anyone in the conference, altering many more shots than he is credited for.
9. Emmy Andujar, So., Manhattan - Andujar, a do-it-all guard-forward tweener, would be invaluable to any MAAC team because of his ability to score, distribute and defend. He’s best on the break, but he is also very solid in the half court, shooting 49.1 percent from the floor and 36 percent from deep. Andujar also converted a prayer to complete Manhattan’s comeback and upset win over rival Iona in January.
8. Dylon Cormier, Jr., Loyola Md. - Cormier made quite a leap offensively between his freshman and sophomore years, raising his scoring average five points to 13.4 and his field goal percentage by eight points to 46.1 percent. A solid defender, too, he was one of the Greyhounds’ key players during last year’s trip to the NCAA Tournament.
7. Chavaughn Lewis, So., Marist - As a freshman, Lewis played like a future conference scoring champ, averaging 14.4 points per game and pouring in 20-plus five times. He also finished the season on a 20-game double-figure scoring streak and averaged 1.7 steals per game. If he can learn to be more prudent with the ball, reducing his three turnovers per game, Lewis will be one of the best MAAC players for years to come.
6. Harold Washington, Sr., Canisius - Washington is clearly one of the best scorers in the MAAC, evidenced by his 17 point average in his first season with the Golden Griffins. He cracked double-digits all but four times and topped 20 10 times.
5. Juan’ya Green, So., Niagara - Like Washington, Green scored in single-digits just four times last year. However, Green’s feat was all the more impressive given his standing as a freshman and his ability to defend as well. Green also played the role of distributor for Joe Mihalich, and although he averaged 4.5 dimes, his 3.5 turnovers per game must be reduced. If he can improve his assist-turnover ratio, though, he could emerge as one of the best underclassman mid-major guards.
4. Erik Etherly, Sr., Loyola Md. - Etherly averaged 13.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, and he doesn’t shy away from the spotlight. Against Kentucky in December, he went for 14 and 11 on 7-of-8 shooting, including this and-one dunk on Anthony Davis. He also averaged 17.3 points in three MAAC Tournament games and then scored 19 points against Ohio State in the Big Dance. Etherly, at 6-foot 7-inches, is also a very solid defender, averaging 1.1 steals and 1.5 blocks per game as a junior.
3. MoMo Jones, Sr., Iona - Without Machado and Glover, Jones will be responsible for the bulk of Iona’s scoring. Unlike Glover, who wouldn’t have been nearly as dominant without Machado, Jones will survive because of his ability as a playmaker with the ball in his hands. He can score in a variety of ways and last year—yes, with the help of Machado’s court vision—became a more reliable threat from deep. If he can continue to shoot well from three while also getting into the lane, Jones could be a 20 point scorer every night.
2. O.D. Anosike, Sr., Siena - Anosike’s 12.5 rebounds per game last year topped the nation. He has developed a solid post game as well, enabling him to score 15 points per game too. So as a double-double machine, Anosike is one of the best bigs at the mid-major level.
1. George Beamon, Sr., Manhattan - Last year, Beamon made the leap from raw scorer to talented scorer, adding a lethal jumper—42.7 percent from deep—to his arsenal. Now he can score in any way possible, and defenses had trouble stopping him as a junior when he led the conference with 19 points per game. Beamon is also an exceptional rebounder for his size and can defend well too. It’s hard to imagine him vastly eclipsing his production from a season ago, but a 20-point average isn’t inconceivable.
Honorable Mentions: Sean Armand and Derek Needham could both very well end up on this list, but each of them has something to prove. Armand is a shooter and, really, only a shooter. Can he survive without Machado setting him up on the wing? And Needham has not lived up to his promise following his dominant freshman season. He’s still clearly talented, but can he harness that talent into a breakout senior season?
Follow Ari Kramer on Twitter for more on the MAAC and college basketball.