The CAA announces its annual awards this week, and there are four competitive candidates for Rookie of the Year.
Correction: There is one candidate for Rookie of the Year.
While we appreciate the efforts of Kai Toews of UNCW, Ithiel Horton of Delaware and Chase Audige of W&M, this award belongs in the hands of Camren Wynter. He may not win by the margin that Justin Wright-Foreman does for Player of the Year, but he should win this award and should win it easily.
For the statisticians, Wynter and Horton ended the year in a virtual tie in Kenpom’s efficiency metric, well ahead of the other two candidates. Kai Toews almost removes himself from consideration when looking at that metric, but I’d like to take that one step further.
If a voter votes for Kai Toews, they are a dinosaur. They are an absolute dinosaur. It’s not that they have no idea about modern basketball, it’s that they have no idea about basketball. Wilmington’s offense was based around getting lucky and offensive rebounds this year. For all of his assists, Wilmington was 7th in the conference in turnovers, 9th in 2 point field goal percentage and 8th in 3 point field goal percentage. For all of his assists, his team didn’t shoot that well, he/his offense wasn’t getting guys open. A voter for Kai Toews is looking at his assist number and going “Wow! That’a a big number!” And that is his or her argument, after which he or she presumably mouth breathes and maybe takes a nap before going extinct. That voter is irrelevant in the college hoops world. That vote totally ignores Toews 107 turnovers, which led the conference by an astounding 22, and what a turnover means to an offense, which is much more relevant than what an assist means to an offense. Toew’s wasn’t a bad player this year, and to be blunt, the coaching situation down there seems… interesting and potentially not helpful to him, so he may deserve consideration in a freshman pool that isn’t that deep, but compared to Cam Wynter there shouldn’t be a discussion.
Horton and Audige have better cases. Horton is a scorer, the conferences leading scorer as a freshman, but he’s a touch inconsistent for my taste. In 5 of his 18 conference games he scored 2 points or less, which is totally unacceptable for a team from the two guard spot. And it shows: The Blue Hens were 1-4 in those games, the lone win a home win against Elon when the Phoenix were really struggling early in the year. Horton plays solid defense and will be a solid two way player for Delaware going forward, but he’s a pure two guard who doesn’t contribute to his team the way that Wynter does, and so while Wynter has had his “freshman” games too (although less of them) I’m standing by Cam here.
Audige is probably the best counter case. A wing who has been a big component in William and Mary’s fourth place finish, he has shot the ball effectively, helps on the boards and has played solid defense. He doesn’t look like a freshman out there, and has fit into the William and Mary rotation seamlessly. He has benefited from having a Nathan Knight, Justin Pierce and a Matt Milon around him, as he’s drawn a bit less attention from around the league defensively, and probably similarly has been off of peoples radar screen for this award, but he is a deserving candidate.
But Wynter takes this award. Not only does he lead all freshman in minutes (finishing 7th overall) while being at the top of this group in efficiency despite all those minutes, but he has done everything one could hope from a point guard. He’s second in assist to turnover ratio league-wide, 4th in steals, 21st in rebounding (from a point guard!) and scored double digits per game. He was made a team captain for a team that was picked 9th and finished 6th despite a multitude of injuries. And when Troy Harper went down, and Drexel’s three starting guards were all out and they needed Cam most, here were his numbers:
3 Games, 39/Min per game, 17.7 points per game, 6.7 assists per game, 2 turnovers per game, 5.3 rebounds per game.
That is filling out a stat sheet at a time when defenses are keying on him and there isn’t much help. That’s a line from a franchise player that can be built around, not a CAA freshman point guard. And that is, without question, Camren Wynter, your CAA Rookie of the Year.