By Joe Scalzo
Cleveland State senior guard Norris Cole was tabbed the Horizon League player of the year in voting of the league’s coaches, sports information directors and media.
Here’s a look at the complete results, along with how I voted in each category. Only coaches were eligible to vote for defensive honors and sixth man of the year.
Player of the year
Scalzo’s pick: Cole.
Analysis: Cole was a near-unanimous pick by the voters after leading the league in assists (5.5) steals (2.2) and free throw percentage (84 percent). He would have gotten my vote regardless, but after witnessing his 41-point, 20-rebound, nine-assist evisceration of Youngstown State on Feb. 12, I wrote his name down with a black Sharpie.
Coach of the year
Winner: Rob Jeter, Milwaukee
Scalzo’s pick: Jeter.
Analysis: He took a team expected to finish in the middle of the league pack and led them to nine straight conference victories to finish the season. The Panthers shared the league crown with Butler and CSU and earned the tournament’s top seed.
Newcomer of the year
Winner: Detroit freshman guard Ray McCallum.
Scalzo’s pick: McCallum.
Analysis: McCallum turned down scholarship offers from schools such as Florida, Arizona, Oklahoma and UCLA to play for his father and averaged 13.5 points, 4.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
First team all-conference
Winners: Cole, Butler senior forward Matt Howard, Wright State senior guard Vaughn Duggins, Valparaiso senior forward Anthony Hill, Valparaiso junior guard Brandon Wood.
How Scalzo voted: Cole, Howard, Wood, Duggins, Hill.
Analysis: Butler senior guard Shelvin Mack deserved consideration but after being named the league’s preseason player of the year, I think people expected more from him.
Second team all-conference
Winners: Mack, Green Bay senior guard Rahmon Fletcher, Wright State senior guard N’Gai Evans, McCallum, Detroit sophomore center Eli Holman.
How Scalzo voted: Mack, Holman, Fletcher, YSU sophomore forward Damian Eargle, UIC senior guard Robo Kreps.
Analysis: Eargle led the league in blocks (3 per game) and was eighth in rebounding (5.9) despite playing out of position at center. Since I didn’t think Eargle deserved to be punished for playing on a last-place team, I extended the same courtesy to Kreps, who was fifth in the league in scoring (16.0 per game), first in minutes played (38.3 per game) and was in the top 10 in several other categories.
Winners: McCallum, Green Bay freshman center Alec Brown, Milwaukee junior guard Kaylon Williams, UIC senior center Paul Carter and Eargle.
Scalzo’s choices: McCallum, Williams, Eargle, Detroit junior forward Nick Minnerath and YSU freshman guard Kendrick Perry.
Analysis: Carter played two years at Minnesota and another year for a junior college. I’ve got nothing against transfers being eligible for this award — I voted for Eargle and Williams, after all — but I draw the line at fifth-year seniors. Perry was first in the Horizon in assist-to-turnover ratio and was fourth in assists per game (4).
Defensive player of the year: Cole.
All-defensive team: Cole, Cleveland state junior guard Trevon Harmon, Howard, Butler junior guard Ronald Nored and Holman.
Sixth man of the year: Loyola senior guard Geoff McCammon.