IHO 2017-18 All-Ivy Awards – Men’s

As selected by Ivy Hoops Online’s contributors, here are the IHO 2017-18 All-Ivy Awards:

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

AJ Brodeur, Penn (So., F – Northborough, Mass.)

In Penn coach Steve Donahue’s system of interchangeable parts, Brodeur has proven he can do it all.

Donahue moved Brodeur from center to power forward to make way for Max Rothschild at the five this season, and in nonconference play, Brodeur wasn’t really the focal point of the offense and excelled by not forcing shots outside of Penn’s ensemble offensive system. Instead, Brodeur helped power Penn to a 9-5 record before January in other ways, cleaning the defensive boards, aggressively fortifying a surprisingly strong defense through blocks and steals, and deft passing in the paint and on the perimeter (notching seven assists in Penn’s 78-70 win at Dayton).

But Brodeur is a second-half player who saved his best stuff for the Ivy slate, posting back-to-back KenPom game MVP performances against Columbia and Cornell in January and pounding Princeton in the paint (8-for-8 from two-point range) in the second half in a convincing 82-65 win at Jadwin Gym.

Brodeur delivered in Penn’s biggest game of the year versus Harvard at the Palestra, registering a 17-point, 12-rebound, four-assist performance in just 30 minutes of play.

Penn’s interior-passing-happy, inside-out offense runs through Brodeur, who also anchors its lockdown defense. As moments get bigger, he seems to as well. No one’s got a motor like Brodeur.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Desmond Cambridge, Brown (Fr., G – Nashville, Tenn.)

This was the only unanimous vote on the men’s side, and it’s hard to think of any individual award whose best candidate was so obvious. Cambridge scored in double figures in all but two games as a rookie, none more memorable than his 32-point explosion in Brown’s 102-100 overtime victory at Princeton, which he clinched with an off-balance, contested three-pointer from the right wing down two points with five seconds left.

The Bears leaned heavily on Cambridge, who had the highest percentage of shots taken and second-highest percentage of possessions used among all Ivies in conference play. Not surprisingly, Cambridge tied for third in the league in scoring with his teammate Brandon Anderson. Cambridge established himself early and often as a strong rebounder and passer who can score from anywhere (finishing fifth in the league in three-point percentage). He should be one of the league’s most exciting talents for years to come.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Chris Lewis, Harvard (So., C – Alpharetta, Ga.)

Rim protection is always paramount in Tommy Amaker’s defenses, and that’s where Lewis comes in.

Lewis led the league in blocks and altered plenty more. He’s also a stellar defensive rebounder, a driving force behind Harvard boasting the No. 1 defensive two-point percentage, No. 1 block percentage and defensive offensive rebounding percentage in league play.

Honorable Mention: Justin Bassey, Harvard (So., G – Denver, Colo.)

Bassey’s defensive value is harder to measure, but Harvard wouldn’t have the conference’s No. 1 overall defense without his ability to handle opposing teams’ best offensive talents one-on-one on the perimeter. Bassey ranked fourth in the league in steals and tied for seventh in defensive boards. Amaker has touted Bassey as lending All-Ivy first-team value to his team, and his high caliber of defense supports Amaker’s view.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Christian Juzang, Harvard (So., G – Tarzana, Calif.)

Juzang played in just 12 games as a rookie, eclipsing 10 minutes just three times. This season brought more pine-riding for Juzang into early December, but he blossomed after a lingering knee injury sidelined Bryce Aiken, quickly establishing himself as a terrific ball distributor and getting more aggressive as the season went on, scoring double figures in six of the final nine games of the regular season. Juzang remained the main conduit for the Crimson offense, though, averaging 5.3 assists per game over the last seven games and placing second in assists per game in conference play.

Juzang went from playing a total of 28 minutes through eight games in mid-November through Dec. 2 to averaging 36.5 minutes per game in league play, second-highest among all Ivy players. Juzang went from benchwarmer to Harvard’s cornerstone on offense down the stretch of the program’s first Ivy championship in three seasons. You can’t ask for much more improvement than that.

Honorable Mention: Trey Phills, Yale (Jr., G – Charlotte, N.C.)

Phills was already recognized as one of the league’s best defenders coming into this season, but his confidence bloomed at the offensive end in Ivy play. He had scored in double figures in just nine games in two and a half seasons before this year’s league action, but a 23-point performance in Yale’s Ivy-opening win over Brown (on the 18th anniversary of the death of his father, NBA player Bobby Phills, in a car accident) signaled that Phills could emerge as an offensive dynamo in Makai Mason’s absence.

And he did, ranking 13th in league play in scoring, including 24 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the floor (including 4-for-5 from three) and a KenPom game MVP award in Yale’s dramatic 80-79 win over Penn in the league’s final weekend of the regular season. James Jones noted Phills’s confidence on an episode of IHO’s Inside Ivy Hoops last month, and Phills has only picked up momentum since then.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Steve Donahue, Penn

Donahue won this award with both substance and style.

The substance? A 12-2 league finish and an Ivy championship for a program that enjoyed just one winning season the previous nine years in his third year at the helm. The style? Defense. As I wrote in the most recent Ivy weekend roundup, Donahue came to Penn in 2015 with a reputation for top-notch offenses at Boston College and particularly Cornell but just so-and-so defenses, so it’s been a bit of a surprise in that context to see Penn win with arguably the league’s best D, allowing just a 29.8 percent shooting clip from three-point range, third-lowest in Division I.

Penn has been a team of interchangeable parts under Donahue, overseeing a system in which nearly any player on the roster can take a game over on a given night (like Devon Goodman’s 23-point performance at Columbia after not having played in five of the previous six games).

Penn plays smart, together and all kinds of other sappy cliche adjectives. Donahue’s made them all come true.

FIRST-TEAM ALL-IVY 

AJ Brodeur, Penn (So., F – Northborough, Mass.)

Matt Morgan, Cornell (Jr., G – Concord, N.C.)

Morgan easily placed first in the league in scoring again and is already one of the greatest pure scorers in Ivy history. He’s posted a whopping nine KenPom game MVP performances this season, including a 31-point, 10-rebound, seven-assist performance in a 107-101 triple overtime comeback victory over Princeton that ultimately put the Big Red in the league tourney over the Tigers. Morgan’s shooting range may seem to be unlimited, but that doesn’t mean he’s a reckless shot-taker. Morgan ranked fifth in field-goal percentage in Ivy play and is also one of the league’s best passers. His floor vision makes his teammates around him better too.

Seth Towns, Harvard (So., F – Columbus, Ohio)

Also considered for Player of the Year, Towns is an electrifying force on both offense and defense, possessing arguably the best mid-range jumper in the league, unarguably the best three-point percentage in the league and an opportunistically aggressive approach to one-on-one D. (He’s a sneakily good defensive rebounder too.)

Towns’s usage rate exceeded 35 percent in seven games this season but hasn’t gotten past 30 percent in the past five as Harvard struck upon a slightly more distributed offense down the stretch. Still, Towns is clearly one of the most well-rounded players in the league and a thrill to watch.

Chris Lewis, Harvard (So., C – Alpharetta, Ga.)

Lewis’s defensive prowess has already been covered, so let’s turn to his high offensive value. He ranks second in the league in field-goal percentage and was highly efficient in Harvard’s biggest games of the Ivy slate, earning KenPom game MVP honors in crucial home wins over Penn and Cornell and in both of the Crimson’s victories over Yale – the other three teams in the Ivy League Tournament. Lewis occasionally gets into foul trouble but has proven consistently that no Ivies have a one-on-one answer for him.

Miye Oni, Yale (So., G – Porter Ranch, Calif.)

Oni wasn’t playing even second-team-caliber basketball through the first six games of league play, but in the past few games, he’s been Player of the Year-worthy, coming close to a triple-double in a win at Columbia, notching 23 points, 12 rebounds and the game-winning dish in an 80-79 win against Penn and coming up with big play after big play in overtime in the regular season finale versus Princeton.

Oni has always been a stat-sheet-stuffer and hasn’t disappointed this season, ranking eighth in the league in scoring, fifth in rebounding, fifth in assists, 11th in free-throw percentage, 15th in steals, seventh in three-point field goals, ninth in blocks and fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio. With Makai Mason out with an injury in all but one game this season, Yale’s offense runs through Oni, and it’s been Ivy League championship-caliber the past four games primarily because of him.

SECOND-TEAM ALL-IVY

Ryan Betley, Penn (So., G – Downingtown, Pa.)

Betley has delivered on the promise he showed in Ivy play as a rookie last season, becoming a workhorse that ranks first for Penn in minutes played. He’s made at least three triples in eight of 14 Ivy contests and contributes tough perimeter defense, also excelling at crashing the defensive boards.

Stone Gettings, Cornell (Jr., F – Malibu. Calif.)

One of the league’s most versatile players, Gettings ranks in the conference’s top 10 in scoring, rebounding, field-goal percentage, assists and free-throw percentage. Gettings had the highest individual usage rate in conference play and remains an underrated force. Maybe Cornell’s Ivy tourney appearance will change that.

Devin Cannady, Princeton (Jr., G – Mishawaka, Ind.)

No one played more basketball throughout the Ivy League than Cannady, who played 40 or minutes in an eye-popping 12 games this season, made possible by the team’s eight overtime periods. (He played in all 55 minutes of Princeton’s triple overtime defeat at Cornell.)

Princeton’s iron man was out there all those ticks for a reason. He can drill threes from anywhere regardless of how contested they are, is a deft passer and a heady rebounder despite only being 6-foot-1.

Mike Smith, Columbia (So., G – Burr Ridge, Ill.)

Smith easily led the league in assists while also boasting the fourth-highest assist-to-turnover ratio in the league, an impressive ranking with opposing defenses keying on him in the backcourt. Of course, Smith is also one of the league’s most aggressive shooters, taking at least 13 shots in 10 Ivy matchups. His field-goal percentages were often less than stellar, but he was still the linchpin of the league’s most potent offense during conference play.

Desmond Cambridge, Brown (Fr., G – Nashville, Tenn.)

ALL-IVY HONORABLE MENTIONS

Justin Bassey, Harvard (So., G – Denver, Colo.)

Bassey also finished fourth in three-point shooting percentage, saving his best offensive output for pivotal late-season overtime wins over Cornell and Princeton.

Myles Stephens, Princeton (Jr., G – Lawrenceville, N.J.)

Stephens garnered back-to-back-to-back KenPom game MVP awards in mid-December wins over Monmouth, Cal Poly and USC, back when Princeton looked like the favorite to win the Ivy title. The 2016-17 Ivy Defensive Player of the Year continued to offer stifling defense on a team whose overall defense deteriorated around him, and his strong late-season performances at Harvard and Yale nearly led the Tigers to an improbable Ivy tourney appearance after having fallen to 3-8 in league play (particularly putting up 33 of Princeton’s 66 points himself at Harvard).

Darnell Foreman, Penn (Sr., G – Camden, N.J.)

Foreman is Penn’s floor general, a leader with great floor vision and a judicious shot selector who burned Princeton inside and out at Jadwin Gym and excels at drawing contact.

Brandon Anderson, Brown (So., G – Mahwah, N.J.)

Anderson has an uncanny ability to draw contact, attempting double-digit free throws in seven games this season while tying with Cambridge in ranking third in scoring league-wide. He also finished tied with Dartmouth’s Brendan Barry for second in assists and placed second in steals as well,

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