For the third straight year I had the privilege of covering the Big South Conference Tournament, held this year at the beautiful facility of Campbell University (The tournament had been held at Coastal Carolina). There were a few upsets along the way this year. Gardner-Webb made a good push as the 6 seed and was able to knock off the 3 seed Coastal Carolina to advance to the semi-finals. The Winthrop Eagles advanced to the championship game for the third year in a row. But it was the 4 seeded Asheville who punched its ticket to the Big Dance, coming back from a 9 point halftime deficit to knock off Winthrop 77-68. Below I have put together my All-Tournament teams, based solely on their play at the tournament. These were my top 5 players (I didnt worry about having to put different positions on it). I gave Dwayne Sutton, a freshman from UNC Asheville, the MVP award. He was terrific all tournament, but was sensational when it mattered most, scoring 25 points and grabbing 18 boards in the championship game.
Basketball Elite Big South All-Tournament Team
MVP: Dwayne Sutton (Asheville)
Tyrell Nelson, F, 6’7”, JR (Gardner- Webb)
Shaquille Johnson, F, 6’5”, SR (Longwood)
Ahmad Thomas, F, 6’4”, SO (Asheville)
Miles Bowman, F, 6’6”, JR (High Point)
Xavier Cooks, F, 6’8”, SO (Winthrop)
Tyrell Nelson (Gardner-Webb)
Strong and physical. Tremendous rebounder. Efficient scorer around the basket and also showed he could hit the midrange. Draws contact at a high rate. Underrated athlete. Was named 1st Team All Conference for a reason. Single handedly led Gardner-Webb to first 2 wins.
Shaquille Johnson (Longwood)
After having an OK showing in game 1, Johnson exploded in game 2 for 28 points. Possibly the best overall athlete in the conference whose name isn’t John Brown. Good rebounder. Unselfish player who can score off the dribble.
Ahmad Thomas (Asheville)
Powerful and fearless player who showed he could score inside against the big boys. Terrific rebounder who can lead the break with the dribble after rebounding the ball. This tournaments Draymond Green. If he is hitting his 3, watch out.
Miles Bowman (High Point)
Good rebounder and rim protector who is a terrific finisher. Solid pick and pop guy who can hit the 3 with consistency. Plays with a competitive spirit and puts it all on the line. Winner.
Xavier Cooks (Winthrop)
Originally from Australia, Cooks had a terrific tournament, helping to lead his team to the championship. He is highly skilled and is an underrated passer/unselfish too. Terrific from the high post. Can put the ball on the floor and change directions with the dribble. Has a high arc on his 3 which he can hit with his feet set and has great touch.
Honorable Mention Team
Armel Potter, PG, 6’1”, FR (Charleston Southern) *PG w/ good vision, can hit the 3, and play the P/R game
Dwayne Sutton, G, 6’5”, FR (Asheville) *Great rebounding guard who can really defend- plays hard
Jimmy Gavin,G, 6’3”, SR (Winthrop) *Athletic scoring guard who can really shoot it.
Dylan Smith, G/F, 6’5”, FR (Asheville) *Versatile wing w/ good length. Can hit the 3 and has a decent handle.
DeSean Murray, F, 6’5”, SO (Presbyterian) *Undersized forward who plays hard. Strong. Good rebounder.