Updated: May 10, 2022
The NEC Postseason Awards are here - let the debate begin!
Many thought Peter Kiss had the potential to be the NEC Player of the Year, the Rookie of the Year race was wide open, and three candidates could've potentially walked home with the Coach of the Year award.
Let's break down how the committee voted to crown the NEC Awards this year.
Player of the Year: Alex Morales (Wagner)
No surprises here. Morales now becomes only the 4th player in NEC history to win POY twice, and the first since 1998. He is the only player in the nation to average at least 18 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. This would have been a total shoe-in if not for Peter Kiss threatening his crown. Well-deserved for the best two-way player in the league, which leads to…
Defensive Player of the Year: Alex Morales (Wagner)
A double dipper! There was only one other player in NEC history to pull off both the POY and DPOY awards in one season, and you have to go back more than 21 years to do it. Morales established himself as a powerful defensive threat, both on the perimeter and in the paint. He hung with the bigs, but had the speed to function as an above-average 3-point defender, too.
Rookie of the Year: Anquan Hill (FDU)
A true success story in the league this year, Anquan Hill took some time to earn Greg Herenda’s trust. He started only 2 out-of-conference games, and then only missed the starting lineup in one of the next 15 contests. Hill finished with double-figures in more than half the conference games he appeared in. The sky is the limit for Hill, who averaged over 10 points-per-game in NEC play.
Most Improved Player of the Year: Josh Cohen (St. Francis PA)
Don’t take away anything from Cohen, who took a nice jump forward this year, elevating his PPG from 5+ to 12.9, but I expected Sacred Heart’s Nico Galette to be on this trophy. Cohen got some burn last year and cracked the rotation quite often; Galette came into 2021-22 with little-to-no experience. Cohen’s role grows more important with the graduation of Mark Flagg this year.
Jim Phelan Coach of the Year: Jared Grasso (Bryant)
1st ever regular season title for Bryant, and 4 years at the helm. Grasso looks to have a sky-high limit in the NCAA coaching circuit, and for as long as he’s in the mid-major level, this has the potential to be the first of many awards he’ll garner.
First Team All-Conference:
Peter Kiss (Bryant) Charles Pride (Bryant)
Alex Morales (Wagner)
Eral Penn (LIU)
Ty Flowers (LIU)
Joining POY Morales are two studs from Bryant and two from LIU. This required the least amount of thought in recent NEC memory. Peter Kiss leads the nation in scoring (25.1 PPG to end the regular season), and Charles Pride is a #1 option…on a team with two #1 options. Eral Penn established himself as the premier forward in the league, while Ty Flowers continued to light it up from downtown and in the frontcourt.
Second Team All-Conference:
Jalen Benjamin (Mount) Will Martinez (Wagner)
Raekwon Rogers (Wagner)
Jordan Minor (Merrimack)
Michael Cubbage (St. Francis Brooklyn)
Jalen Benjamin had the tall order of replacing Damian Chong Qui as Mount St. Mary’s new PG, and he delivered. He captured 43 made-three-pointers, the most on the team, and 18th in the conference. I liked Raekwon Rogers’ contributions this year, as his transition from JUCO was nearly seamless. Jordan Minor’s career will go down as an underrated one in the NEC rankings, and Michael Cubbage didn’t skip a beat after his transfer from Marist. Will Martinez was good in the clutch for Wagner this year and held it down in the backcourt.
Third Team All-Conference:
Nana Opoku (Mount) Mezie Offurum (Mount)
Elijah Ford (Wagner)
Aaron Clarke (Sacred Heart)
Tyler Thomas (Sacred Heart)
Nana Opoku won the Defensive Player of the Year in 2021 by a slim margin, and in a year that a lot was asked of him, I thought he did a decent job of competing. Mezie Offurum, on the other hand, was a standout at Mount for two consecutive years after his career at George Washington was a less-than-ideal one for him. Boogie Ford went down with an injury and could've been higher on this list if he didn’t. Aaron Clarke and Tyler Thomas remained the go-to-guys at Sacred Heart - look for Thomas to have a career year in his senior campaign in 2022-23.
Oscar Berry (FDU) Anquan Hill (FDU)
Sebastien Lamaute (FDU)
Andre Snoddy (CCSU)
Zaire Williams (Wagner)
If nothing else, FDU had a solid core of rookies that carried them through the year. Oscar Berry proved he can light it up from 3, while Sebastien Lamaute served as a nice facilitator for FDU. Look out for the Knights to evolve into a force these next couple of seasons…you’d be foolish to doubt Greg Herenda. As for CCSU - another young team - Andre Snoddy proved to be the cornerstone of a ripe Blue Devil group. He arguably could’ve won ROY as well.