Top 5 Returning Players in Missouri Valley Basketball in 2014

Top 5 Returning Players in Missouri Valley Basketball

Wichita State teammates
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Last season was a down year for the Missouri Valley Conference. Although Wichita State fans would disagree, the overall quality of the conference took a hit, as the Shockers were the lone team from the MVC to reach the NCAA Tournament.
This season will present opportunities for young players to step up and help the conference reclaim its name as the premier mid-major conference.

5. Ron Baker, Wichita State, 12.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.1 APG

Ron Baker hop-step
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

5. Ron Baker, Wichita State, 12.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.1 APG

Ron Baker hop-step
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

There is no player as balanced and versatile as Baker in the MVC. He can shoot, drive and play defense like a mad man. This guy plays like his hair is on fire but in a controlled-type of way. His game is that of a glue-guy who has the skills of a star player. Baker is Wichita State’s best shooter and he led the team with nearly 70 three-pointers made last season.

4. Anthony Beane, Southern Illinois, 14.7 PPG

Anthony Beane jump
Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

4. Anthony Beane, Southern Illinois, 14.7 PPG

Anthony Beane jump
Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

No player had a better second-half in the conference schedule than Beane. He was exactly what the Salukis had been praying for—a secondary scoring threat to pair with senior Desmar Jackson. Except, he was more than that. Beane took the figurative torch from Jackson towards the end of the conference season and carried it into conference play. This kid can shoot and he is really athletic. With his skills, he can average 18 PPG next year.

3. D.J. Balentine, Evansville, 22.8 PPG, 4.2 APG

D.J. Balentine layup
Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

3. D.J. Balentine, Evansville, 22.8 PPG, 4.2 APG

D.J. Balentine layup
Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

As a freshman, he showed signs of being a good player. But as a sophomore, Balentine became a great player. He increased his scoring output by 12.7 points per game and led his team in assists. The Purple Aces were devoid of perimeter offense outside of the super sophomore. In just his second season he became the best scorer in the conference and he may leave Evansville as the best scorer in its history—maybe the MVC as well.

2. Fred Van Vleet, Wichita State, 11.6 PPG, 5.4 APG

Fred Van Vleet fake
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

2. Fred Van Vleet, Wichita State, 11.6 PPG, 5.4 APG

Fred Van Vleet fake
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Van Vleet won the Larry Bird Trophy as the best player in the conference in just his second season. He wasn’t highly touted coming out of Rockford, Ill., but he has proven that the scouts don’t always get it right. Van Vleet’s leadership skills are just as potent as his point guard abilities. He is coach Gregg Marshall’s floor general and executes orders with clarity and command.

1. Marcus Marshall, Missouri State, 14.3 PPG

Marcus Marshall shot
Dave Weaver-USA TODAY Sports

1. Marcus Marshall, Missouri State, 14.3 PPG

Marcus Marshall shot
Dave Weaver-USA TODAY Sports

Although he saw limited action because of a leg injury, Marshall was vital in MSU’s 6-0 start. He scored 15 points and led his team in assists in an overtime loss to Wichita State, which was the closest game the Shockers played in conference season. Marshall is his team’s most explosive scorer and best perimeter defender. As a freshman he scored 25 points against WSU in his first MVC tournament game.

DeMario Phipps-Smith is the writer of mid-major NCAA basketball content for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @demariopsmith or add him to your network on Google

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