Missouri Valley Conference Award Ceremony
Player of the Year: Adam Emmenecker, Drake.
The spunky guard floats around the floor not with boundless athleticism, but with the clearest understanding of prudent play.
Rarely shooting more than eight times a game, Emmenecker led the conference in assists (6.7 per game). During conference play he dished out over 30 more than anyone else in the league. Emmenecker managed the most assists per game since Jeremy Stanton (Evansville) in 2001.
The rebounding Emmenecker offers boggles the mind. No rational explanation exists for why the 6’1” Michigan native hauled in 60 offensive rebounds. Pure drive. He wanted it more than his foes. The confluence of timely rebounding and decisive passing earns Adam Emmenecker the 2008 MVC Player of the Year.
Newcomer of the Year: Theron Wilson, Bradley.
Creighton’s leading scorer, P’Allen Stinnett, deserves mention as a freshman in a senior-dominated league. Even so the newcomer of the year is Theron, a JUCO transfer now suiting up for Bradley.
The Braves suffered more setbacks than any Valley team. Constant contributions were hard to find with an ever-changing lineup. Impressively, the 6’5”, 195-pound Wilson pulled down double-digit bounds four times. Three times he poured in 20 points and he almost always had to guard an opposing power forward on the other end of the floor.
Best Shooter: Jeremy Crouch, Bradley.
Crouch is the preeminent offensive player on a free-flowing Bradley team. Head coach Jim Les draws up plays that get Crouch open and plays that use him as a decoy. Even as enemies game-plan exclusively to stop him, the 6’5 swingman made 98 triples. Only 15 players in the nation converted more three-point baskets.
Best Playmaker: Adam Emmenecker, Drake.
Emmenecker does what Keno Davis needs done. He distributes wisely to various adept outside shooters. Much of his success shocked the closest followers of Drake basketball. He did not even have a basketball scholarship three years ago. So much credit for Drake’s success must be heaped on Emmenecker.
Like all point guards aspire to, Emmenecker makes his teammates better just by doing his thing.
Best NBA Prospect: Osiris Eldridge, Illinois State.
A conference with dozens of undersized, big-hearted players–as the Valley is–rarely contributes a player to the League.
There might not be a future pro in the MVC this year. Osiris Eldridge, sophomore at Illinois State University, has the best shot. He tied for the league lead in scoring (16.3 ppg) with Drake sophomore Josh Young.
Beyond a nifty shooting touch, Eldridge plays with the aggressiveness and authority needed from a professional off-guard. Though he does not always slash, Eldridge is a great finisher around the rim.
He has a strong body and good build. When braving treacherous territory, Eldridge finishes with confidence.
The chance of OE playing five years in the NBA is below 40 percent.
Best Defender: Eric Coleman, Northern Iowa.
There cannot be a more exciting player in the Missouri Valley Conference this season than Eric Coleman. Flashy and productive, Coleman satiates even the most fundamental of fans. He gets great box-out position on his man and then snatches down rebound after rebound. Even when he mistimed his jump, Coleman manages to haul it in. His long arms and quick second bounce are key to his success.
The senior from Minnesota blocked the second most shots (42) in the Valley and led the conference in rebounding (8.5 per game).
No other player in the league features the combination of long arms, hops, and innate rebounding hunger.
Most Versatile: Jonathan Cox, Drake.
A microcosm of Drake under the Davis’s, Cox is such a daunting matchup problem for 6’9” gargoyles. For example, Randal Falker (SIU) and Coleman (UNI) are hesitant to truly commit all the way out to 20 feet.
“Bucky” Cox is a different kind of tallish outside shooter. Accurate from deep (45%) and much tougher and hungrier than Pete Campbell of Butler, Cox pursues the rebound with a giddy ambivalence rather than reluctance.
The Bulldog junior finished the year as the second best (8.3 rpg) MVC rebounder.
Most Underrated: Anthony Slack, Illinois State.
Illinois State has some exciting players on their roster. The guard trio deserves the focus they get by media and fans, but Slack quietly gives his team so much. The quick hopper is the leading rebounder for the Redbirds and helps fuel the energetic fervor they aim to build. By virtue of being selective and strong around the rim, Slack shoots an amazingly high percentage (70%) from the floor. That field-goal percentage is better than four Memphis starters shoot from the free throw line.