The NCAA Division II national tournament is in full swing. Return to this space in the next couple of days to learn about the champions of each region. But first, with another great regular season completed, it’s time to hand out our annual awards to the players who reigned supreme in 2016-17.
Scoring Machine – Phil Taylor, Shorter (GA) College. The explosive guard terrorized defenders in the Gulf Coast Conference and beyond this season. He led the nation by averaging 34 points per game, which was the highest average in at least seven seasons. Taylor recorded four 50-point games, including two in consecutive outings during the final 10 days of the season. The well-traveled 26-year-old transfer dropped 62 points on Carver in the opening weeks of the season and continued producing. He poured in 919 points on the season, shooting 43 percent from the field and 39 percent beyond-the-arc. Only three teams held Taylor to less than 20 points in a game this season. Taylor concludes his two-year career with 1,626 points (29.6 ppg average). With such dynamic scoring ability, we like his chances to land somewhere on a professional roster.
Super Sniper – Lincoln Memorial (TN) always has a chance because of guard Luquon Choice. The senior sharpshooter swished 134 3-pointers this season entering the Railsplitters’ Southeast Regional final battle against Queens on Tuesday night. It’s not as if he’s a reckless gunner, either. In addition to finishing second in 3-pointers per game (4.06), he was 4th in the nation in 3-point percentage (48.2). The 6-3 shooting specialist made seven or more 3-pointers in a game on seven occasions this season, topped by a season-high eight trifectas in an 88-72 win over Kentucky Wesleyan on Nov. 18th. He’s been a deep threat throughout his career, burying 420 3-pointers. He’s 31 shy of the D2 career record with a chance to play four more games if the Railsplitters return to the national championship game.
Trusted with kids and keys – Tanner Kretchman, a guard for Minnesota State-Moorhead values the basketball. Sure handed as a neurosurgeon, the junior dished out 200 assists this season and committed only 43 turnovers, leading the nation with a 4.65 ratio. His expertise expands beyond distribution. He averaged 16.7 points and 3.1 rebounds while playing more than 35 minutes per game for the Dragons, who fell to East Central (OK) in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Kretchman’s facilitation has been on display throughout his career, as he’ll enter his senior season with 460 assists against 108 turnovers.
Double-Double dominator: It was a rough season for NYIT (8-17), but that didn’t stop 6-8 forward Jon Feiler from controlling the paint. The fifth-year senior led the nation in double-doubles (22) and rebounding (14.8 per game). In addition, he poured in 20 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting. Feiler recorded five 20-rebound games this season, snagging a season-high 23 on Jan. 4th against Molloy. Salute to Feiler, the glass cleaner.
Author Brian Mull is a freelance writer who covers Div. II basketball for NCAA.com.
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