The Mid-Major Awards (Little Too Early Predictions)


The Mid-Major Awards (Little Too Early Predictions)

By Zac Bonzheim

NCAA Men’s Basketball has been seeing a large parity between major college basketball schools and what are considered mid-majors. What is a mid-major? Generally speaking, it is any of the non-BCS football schools, with the exception of the Big East. So what conferences are mid-major?

  • American East
  • Atlantic 10
  • Atlantic Sun
  • Big Sky
  • Big South
  • Big West
  • Colonial
  • Conference USA
  • Horizon
  • Ivy
  • Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC)
  • Mid-American Conference (MAC)
  • Mid-Eastern Conference (MEAC)
  • Missouri Valley
  • Mountain West
  • North East
  • Ohio Valley
  • Patriot
  • Southern (SoCon)
  • Southland
  • South West Athletic Conference (SWAC)
  • Summit
  • Sun Belt
  • West Coast
  • Western Athletic Conference (WAC)


Mid-Majors National Awards


National Mid-Major Player of the Year: Nigel Williams-Goss, Junior, Gonzaga, Guard

This award is toughest to decide. Picking between the leader of arguably the best team in basketball, Nigel-Williams Goss, and one of the most dominant players in the NCAA, Alec Peters, was tough. At the end of the day, I went with Nigel Williams-Goss as the National Mid-Major Player of the Year. Williams-Goss is averaging 15.7 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game, 4.6 assists per game, shooting .505, around 2 steals per game, and a player efficiency rating of 26.58.  Peters is averaging more points (23.1 ppg),  more rebounds (10.7 rpg), fewer assists (2.2 apg),  shooting at .463, .9 steals per game, and a player efficacy of 28.18. The stats give an edge to Peters. I say leading Gonzaga to an undefeated season against a much harder schedule gives Williams-Goss the edge. 21-5 is a good record for Valparaiso, but in a moderate conference, it is expected.


Defensive Player of the Year: James Thompson IV, Sophomore, Eastern Michigan, Forward


Freshman of the Year: Keith Braxton, Freshman, St. Francis (PA), Guard

Another hotly contested award will be the Mid-Major National Freshman of the Year. Keith Braxton, a guard out of St. Francis and Zach Collins, the big man from Gonzaga are the best options for this one. Zach Collins will likely win a conference title, finish the season undefeated, and win a tournament title this year. Braxton is the best player on an average team. Braxton leads his team in points (12.8), minutes (33.5), rebounds (8.6), steals (1.6), and is second in three-point percentage (.424), field goal percentage (.518), and blocks (.4). This kid has been carrying his team all year and they still sit at fourth in the conference. Don’t forget, Zach Collins has stats too. Collins has to boast third in minutes (17.2), third in points (10.6), tied with most rebounds (5.8), and the most blocks (1.5). Collins is by no means carrying the load with predicted All-American Nigel Williams-Goss running the show. Sure, Collins’ team is a lot better than Braxton’s mediocre St. Francis squad, but Braxton has something no one else has. Braxton has the highest player efficiency rating of any mid-major freshman in the nation (18.76). He is 78th overall in the nation meaning that he could fit in with many of the best squads. Collins is not even within the top 100. The edge goes to Keith Braxton.


First Team:

– Nigel-Williams Goss, Junior, Gonzaga, Guard

– Marcus Keene, Junior, Central Michigan, Guard

– Alec Peters, Senior, Valparaiso, Forward

– James Thompson IV, Sophomore, Eastern Michigan, Forward

– Jock Landale, Junior, St. Mary’s, Center


Second Team:

– John Konchar, Sophomore, IPFW, Guard

– Jacob Wiley, Senior, Eastern Washington, Forward

– Cameron Oliver, Sophomore, Nevada, Forward

– TJ Cline, Senior, Richmond, Forward

– Justin Tuoyo, Senior, Chattanooga, Forward


Third Team

-Keith Braxton, Freshman, St. Francis (PA), Guard

– Evan Bradds, Senior, Belmont, Forward

– Mike Daum, Sophomore, South Dakota State, Forward

– Eric Mika, Sophomore, BYU, Forward

– Zach Collins, Freshman, Gonzaga, Center


Honorable Mentions (Alphabetical)

– Peyton Aldridge, Junior, Davidson, Forward

– Brandon Clarke, Sophomore, San Jose State, Forward

-Tim Kempton, Senior, Lehigh, Center

-Tiwian Kendley, Junior, Morgan State, Guard

– EC Matthews, Junior, Rhode Island, Guard

– Marquise Moore, Senior, George Mason, Guard

– Sa’eed Nelson, Freshman, American, Guard

– Erik Thomas, Senior, New Orleans, Forward

– Rashawn Thomas, Senior, Texas A&M CC, Forward



All Freshman Team

– Keith Braxton, Freshman, St. Francis (PA), Guard

– Sa’eed Nelson, Freshman, American, Guard

– Adam Grant, Freshman, Bryant, Guard

– Yoeli Childs, Freshman, BYU, Forward

– Zach Collins, Freshman, Gonzaga, Center


Honorable Mentions (Alphabetical)

– DaQuan Bracey, Freshman, Louisiana Tech, Guard

– Kurk Lee, Freshman, Drexel, Guard


Conclusion: The mid-majors are dominated by forwards and the freshmen class is heavy in good guards. There are only five total guards who made the All American teams and honorable mentions. For the freshmen class, all but two players were guards. What does this mean? Weak guard recruiting classes for a few years in a row placed a huge emphasis on the forwards for the mid-majors. With more and more mid-majors playing fast paced small ball and a guard heavy freshmen class, these mid-majors are creating more and more players capable of putting up NBA numbers as freshmen. We could see some of these players becoming the next Damian Lilliard or we could see the transfer market blowing up in the next few seasons. Many of these players who were under recruited in high school have now proved themselves at the college level. Would major programs invest in these player who are proven but older over the NBA talent of top-tier high school recruits? Some major programs like Iowa State (5 current transfers) and Gonzaga (4 current transfers rostered) have already used the transfer market to their advantage. Michigan State received Bryn Forbes from Cleveland State and now sees himself as a member of the Spurs. Will more players to follow this route or will they build a program like Cleanthony Early, Ron Baker, and Fred VanVleet did at Wichita State? Only time will tell.

Zachery Bonzheim