The Aztecs basketball season is still a ways away. But just for the fun of it, I scanned through the Aztecs’ roster and came up with some awards that some Aztecs players could win. These are just my predictions and nothing else.
Most Exciting Player – Dwayne Polee
Polee did not play as much as he would have liked to last season, though in no fault of his own. Polee was a victim of Coach Steve Fisher’s notorious bench rotation. However, the 6’7” forward was electric in the games he did play. Polee only saw 26 games and averaged 9.4 minutes last year. Polee was a nice three-point shooter but where I found him the most dynamic was when he scored driving in the lane. He wasn’t bad on defense either. With a year of growth under his belt and being an upperclassman, expect Fisher to use Polee more this season than last.
Most Improved Player – Winston Shepard
There is no question Shepard has great potential. His ceiling is very high. Last season he showed flashes of stardom and for the most part last year looked over hyped. Shep is a great passer but needs to work on improving his jump shot, ball handling skills, and free throw shooting. Last season he had a horrendous .393 field goal percentage. His ball handling skills could improve if he just slows his game down a bit. Shep was just horrible at the free throw line, making 57 percent. I know Shepard is a fierce competitor and dreams of the NBA, for these reasons I believe the time in the gym will payoff to show an improvement from last season.
Newcomer of the Year – Matt Shrigley
This was the hardest category to decide on. The Aztecs have a few new studs coming in and eligible to play this coming season. First, there is the Kawhi Leonard look-alike in Josh Davis, and then there is the 4-star recruit Dakari Allen. D’Erryl Williams could be a sleeper pick. However, I decided on picking Shrigs as my projected newcomer of the year. The 6’6 guard was a red shirt last season honing his skills as a red shirt. By all accounts, I hear this kid is a gamer. He can shoot the three, drive the ball in the lane and be unselfish. Because of his all around game, Shrigley is my Aztecs’ newcomer of the year.
Most Disappointing Player – James Johnson
Love James Johnson. I hope he proves me wrong. However, I am making this pick simply because of the lack of experience. Johnson got his feet wet in 2012-2013 season, appearing in 52 minutes. But after showing he was too slow for the game coach Fisher hardly played him. I believe this upcoming season he will see more action and it would be somewhat of a learning experience for him. That being said, expect a breakout senior year from Johnson after learning the ropes his junior year.
Most Important Player – Xavier Thames
The Aztecs will only go as far as X-Man takes them. That is saying a lot but coach Fish system relies heavily on the play of the point guard. The senior dealt with a bad back for the better part of last season and if healthy, he could lead this team deep into March. X is the brains behind the Aztecs offense so having him running the offense is key. Thames knows the offense well and with Tapley, Rahon and Franklin gone, Thames now has the most seniority on the team and is the appointed leader of this squad.