A.J. English


MAAC Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

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With the Gaels and the Jaspers lined up on opposite sides of the bracket, are we in for a Iona-Manhattan MAAC Tournament championship game for the third straight March?

The rivals have split the last two tournament titles with Iona reaching a second-consecutive NCAA tournament in 2013 and Manhattan punching its ticket for the Big Dance for the first in a decade last year. Rider, the No. 2 seed, is without star big man Matt Lopez for the rest of the season while Monmouth and Canisius look to replicate success against the MAAC’s elite again this season.

If we do see Manhattan and Iona for the third time this season, you won’t hear any complaints from me. The teams have met twice with Iona winning both games by a combined seven points.

READ MORE: NBC Sports’ latest Bracketology | The updated top 25



When: March 5, 7-9

Where: Times Union Center (Albany, New York)

Final: March 9, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

READ MORE: NBCSports.com’s 2015 Conference Tournament Previews

Favorite: Iona

The Gaels have two guys in line for the MAAC Player of Year in A.J. English and David Laury, Schadrac Casimir, who should be the unanimous choice for MAAC Rookie of the Year and last week got back Isaiah Williams, who is also averaging double figures.

And if they lose?: Manhattan

Like mentioned above, the Jaspers play their rival tight, including a three-point win in last year’s MAAC Tournament championship game. The Jaspers can’t look ahead to March 14 because they’ll likely get Quinnipiac, which has been a torn in their side, in the quarterfinals.


  • Rider: Odd that the Broncs are being referred to as a sleeper as the No. 2 seed, but they might be written off heading into postseason play after Matt Lopez tore his ACL last week. He was leading the team in scoring and rebounding.
  • Monmouth: The Mountain Hawks have already defeated Iona once this season — losing by one-point in the rematch. It’s worth noting, the No. 4 seed has reached the MAAC Tournament title game in three of the last four years.

Player of the Year: A.J. English, Iona

He’s not even his team’s leading scorer, but he’s the conference’s best player who is luring NBA scouts to New Rochelle. The 6-foot-4 junior scoring guard is top-3 in the MAAC in scoring at 19.5 points per game, grabbed 5.2 rebounds and dished out a conference-best 5.2 assists per game.

Coach of the Year: Kevin Baggett, Rider

The Broncs were picked to finish seventh in the MAAC preseason poll and enter’s the MAAC Tournament in March as the No. 2 seed. Rider led the conference in defensive efficiency, per kenpom.com, and head to Albany winners of seven of its last eight.

All-MAAC team:

  • English
  • David Laury, Iona: The leading scorer for the Gaels averaged 20.1 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
  • Emmy Andujar, Manhattan: One the more versatile mid-major wings led the Jaspers in points (16.5), rebounds (7.5), assists (3.5) and steals (2.1).
  • Zaid Hearst, Quinnipiac: Top-4 in the conference in scoring at 18.4 points per game. The 6-foot-4 guard also corralled 6.2 boards per game.
  • Ousmane Drame, Quinnipiac: Averaged a double-double this season — 14.4 points and 10.8 rebounds — to go along a conference-leading 3.0 blocks per game. Registered double-doubles in 12 MAAC games.

CBT Prediction: Iona over Manhattan

Two players suspended one game each for their role in Iona-St. Peter’s incident

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Iona’s A.J. English and St. Peter’s Desi Washington were each suspended one game for their roles in last Saturday’s benches clearing brawl.

The Gaels, the top team in the MAAC, didn’t have time to celebrate their 68-61 overtime win over the Peacocks as tempers flared shortly after the final buzzer. Caught in the middle of the heated exchanged was English and Washington. At one point, one of the referees removed English from the scuffle, only to be tossed aside by the 6-foot-5 shooting guard.

Both schools announced one-game suspensions for their respective players.

“Saint Peter’s places a high premium on sportsmanship and we will continue to be a strong proponent of this fundamental principle throughout our athletic programs and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference,” St. Peter’s athletic director Joe Quinlan said in a statement, via NJ.com.

Iona described English’s actions, and subsquent punishment as, “the initiation of an unsportsmanlike incident,” according to a statement from the university, obtained by Ryan Restivo of NYCBuckets.com.

English is arguably the conference’s top player, averaging 20.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game. He will miss Friday night’s game against Siena. He will be available for Sunday afternoon against Marist. Washington, St. Peter’s leading scorer at 14.5 points per game, will sit out Saturday’s matchup with Fairfield.

Iona and St. Peter’s face each other once more, in the regular season finale on March 1.

Status of Iona star uncertain after incident involving referee (VIDEO)

Iona guard A.J. English (Getty Images)
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Iona sits all alone atop the always-competitive MAAC standings, holding a two-game lead over Rider, Manhattan and Monmouth in the loss column.

But after an incident at the end of an overtime win over St. Peter’s on Saturday, it’s unclear whether Gaels star A.J. English will be available for Iona in the near future.

After the final buzzer sounded in a physical, emotionally intense game, the two teams came together at one end of the floor as the benches cleared. There were no punches thrown — it was not a brawl, as some have termed it — but in the middle of the scrum, English was caught on video tossing a referee aside.

He’s No. 5. The incident occurs at the :09 mark (video via NYC Buckets):

Iona head coach Tim Cluess was not all that forthright when discussing the incident on Tuesday. From the Albany Times-Union:

On a media conference call this afternoon, Iona coach Tim Cluess was asked if his team will face any discipline from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference or from the Iona athletic department. Cluess said the incident is still under review and his team is getting ready to face the Saints.

In a follow-up question, Cluess was asked if making contact with an official should be punishable with a suspension. “No comment,” he said. “I think you should take a better look at the situation, though.” Asked to elaborate, Cluess repeated, “No comment.”

English is averaging 20.7 points, 5.2 boards and 5.6 assists this season. Losing him would be a massive blow for the Gaels.

Second half surge gives Wofford an early morning win over Iona

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On Monday, Wofford announced plans for a new arena, a gift provided by alum and Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson. The 92,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to open in September 2017. For now, the Benjamin Johnson Arena will do work just fine, as evident by the packed crowd on hand for the Terriers’ 7 a.m. tip with MAAC favorite Iona on Tuesday morning.

Wofford, the reigning Southern Conference champion, and favorite to retain that title, outdueled the Gaels, 86-73, in an offensive shootout to pick up its first win of the season.

The Terriers shot 54 percent from the field, including a 6-of-9 shooting from three in the second half (9-of-17 in the game) to turn a three-point halftime deficit into a 13-point victory.

Iona and Wofford traded the lead three times to begin the game before the Terriers began to attack the offensive glass, using second-chance points to spark a lengthy run to extend the lead to double-digits. Wofford led 60-56 when a Justin Gordon putback slam livened the 3,500 in attendance. A minute later Lee Skinner (15 points, nine rebounds) attacked the glass again leading to another second-chance bucket.

Wofford turned 11 offensive rebounds into 17 second-chance points.

Iona’s first half shooting as the morning coffee in Spartanburg, South Carolina: hot, converting on 56 percent its shots while connecting on 7-of-12 from beyond the arc. Although in the second half, a David Laury triple would account for the Gaels’ only deep ball (1-of-5). Laury and A.J. English made eight trips each to the line, converting on 13-of-16 attempts. Unfortunately, for almost seven minutes in the second half, that was the only source of offense for Tim Cluess’ program. In that span, Wofford turned a four-point lead into an 82-66 advantage.

Laury led all scorers with 23 points. English followed with 22 points, four rebounds and three assists. Karl Cochran (20 points) was one of four Terriers in double figures along with Skinner (15), Justin Gordon (13) and Jaylen Allen (11).

Wofford’s first win comes days after an opening night loss to Stanford. The Terriers travel to Fairfield on Friday night to take on another MAAC opponent. Iona, coming off a five-point win against Cleveland State, has a road meeting with Danny Manning and Wake Forest on Friday.

2014-15 Season Preview: Under the radar stars

Larry Nance (AP Photo)
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source: AP
Larry Nance (AP Photo)

Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

The term “under the radar” can be a difficult one to define with regards to college basketball. For some, lists of such players will be dominated by guys whose programs are part of the nightly highlights packages you doze off to in the early morning hours. But for others, the term “under the radar” applies to players who in November may be on the outside looking in with regards to All-America teams. Below are some players who may not be considered to be preseason All-Americans but have a shot at landing on one of those teams at season’s end.

1. Larry Nance Jr., Wyoming: When it comes to the Mountain West the traditional contenders (New Mexico, San Diego State and UNLV) tend to get most of the attention from fans outside of the region, so the son of the former Cleveland Cavalier may not be as well-known to them. But he should be, as Nance averaged 15.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game last season. Nance is returning from a torn ACL, but he’s expected to be at full strength when the season begins later this month.

2. Darrun Hilliard, Villanova: Hilliard was a bit miffed that he wasn’t chosen to be Big East POY at their media day, and rightfully so. The senior is coming off of his best season as a Wildcat, averaging 14.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. And with James Bell out of eligibility, Hilliard could be even more productive for the preseason favorites to win the Big East.

3. Shawn Long, Louisiana: Losing Elfrid Payton hurts, but in the 6-foot-9 Long head coach Bob Marlin has a very good piece to build around in an attempt to make a second straight trip to the NCAA tournament. Last year Long accounted for 18.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots per game.

MORE: X-Factors | Breakout Stars | Impact TransfersPreseason All-Americans

4. R.J. Hunter, Georgia State: When it comes to the best shooters in America, Hunter’s clearly on the list. He averaged 18.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season, helping lead the Panthers to a Sun Belt regular season title.

5. Isaiah Taylor, Texas: Taylor was good as a freshman, averaging 12.0 points, 4.0 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game. But there’s clearly room for improvement, as evidenced by the shooting percentages (39.1% FG, 26.3% 3PT), and the Longhorns’ deep front court should result in cleaner shooting opportunities for him.

6. A.J. English, Iona: While the Gaels will have to account for the loss of Sean Armand, English returns after averaging 17.2 points, 4.3 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game as a sophomore.

7. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown: Who was the pick to win preseason Big East POY? Smith-Rivera was, and with Markel Starks gone the Hoyas will need a big year from the junior guard. Smith-Rivera accounted for 17.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists per contest in 2013-14.

8. DaVonte’ Lacy, Washington State: Ernie Kent has a tough job in front of him, but it helps that Lacy has one last season of eligibility. As a junior Lacy averaged 19.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

POSITION RANKINGS: Lead Guards | Off Guards | Wing Forwards | Big Men

9. Zak Irvin, Michigan: With Caris LeVert on our All-America team, we’ve essentially pegged him to make the jump that has become commonplace during the John Beilein era in Ann Arbor. But why not Irvin? Thanks to the Wolverines’ personnel losses, he’ll be in a position where he’s asked to do more offensively than just “catch and shoot.”

10. Terran Petteway, Nebraska: While Petteway was a first team All-Big Ten selection last season, that hasn’t led to his being included on many preseason All-America teams. He averaged 18.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season, and if Petteway can improve from an efficiency standpoint look out.


1. Keifer Sykes, Green Bay
2. John Brown, High Point
3. D.J. Balentine, Evansville
4. Daniel Mullings, New Mexico State
5. E.C. Mathews, Rhode Island

2014-2015 Season Preview: NBCSports.com’s Mid-Major All-Americans

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source: AP
Keifer Sykes (AP Photo)

Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Here are our Preseason Mid-Major All-Americans.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

A quick disclaimer before I begin, because determining who qualifies as a mid-major and who doesn’t is always a touchy subject. Here is how we broke it down for these rankings: The Mountain West, the Big East, the Atlantic 10 and the American were all, by default, barred from these rankings. The WCC was eligible with the exception of Gonzaga and BYU. The Missouri Valley was eligible with the exception of Wichita State. Everyone else was fair game.

Why did we eliminate the Shockers from contention? Well, the complicated answer is that “high-major” delegation is more about financial resources, support from the university, the fan base and the community, and consistent, high-level success during the season and on the recruiting trail, but the simple answer is that the Shockers would be the clear-cut No. 1 team here and it’s more fun to do this without them involved. Our rankings, our rules. Deal with it.

RELATED: NBCSports.com’s Mid-Major Power Rankings


  • Keifer Sykes, Green Bay, Sr. (20.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.9 apg): High-flying, high-scoring point guards aren’t that easy to find. Sykes is the reason that the Phoenix have a shot at winning a game-or-two in the NCAA tournament.
  • R.J. Hunter, Georgia State, Jr. (18.5 ppg, 39.5% 3PT): Yeah, I know he plays for Georgia State, but we picked him on this team because he may actually be the nation’s best spot-up shooter.
  • John Brown, High Point, Jr. (19.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.6 spg, 1.5 bpg): The nation’s highest-flying wing, Brown is the reigning Big South Player of the Year and a human-highlight reel.
  • Alan Williams, UC-Santa Barbara, Sr. (21.3 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 2.4 bpg): Williams has been a star at the mid-major level for three years now, but the Gauchos simply haven’t had the kind of success as a team that would garner him more national recognition.
  • Shawn Long, Louisiana-Lafayette, Jr. (18.6 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 2.7 bpg, 42.3% 3PT): It will be Long’s Ragin’ Cajuns team this season with Elfrid Payton now in the NBA. His ability to block shots and shoot threes at 6-foot-10 could mean that he winds up in the NBA Draft after this season as well.

MORE: Top 25 Potential Breakout Stars | Top 25 Non-Conference Games | Coaches on the Hot Seat

Wesley Saunders (AP Photo)


  • Jalan West, Northwestern State, Jr. (19.4 ppg, 6.4 apg, 40.3% 3PT): His numbers are inflated by Northwestern State’s uptempo style of play. That doesn’t make him any less talented, however.
  • Daniel Mullings, New Mexico State, Sr. (16.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.5 apg): Mullings is the reigning WAC Player of the Year, and he’ll have a chance to play more point guard this season.
  • Wesley Saunders, Harvard, Jr. (14.2 ppg, 3.8 apg): Saunders was the Ivy League’s Player of the Year last season and should once again be the leading scorer on a Harvard team that has one a game in the tournament in back-to-back seasons.
  • Jacob Parker, Stephen F. Austin, Sr. (14.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 46.9% 3PT): Parker won last year’s Southland Player of the Year award and was the best player on a team that went 32-3 and beat VCU in the NCAA tournament.
  • Justin Sears, Yale, Jr. (16.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.9 bpg): Sears is our Preseason Ivy League Player of the Year and the biggest reason Yale has a chance to contend with Harvard for the Ivy title.


  • Siyani Chambers, Harvard, Jr. (11.1 ppg, 4.6 apg): The heart and soul of the Crimson. He’s one of the nation’s most underrated point guards.
  • Ryan Harrow, Georgia State, Sr. (17.8 ppg, 4.2 apg): The former Kentucky and N.C. State point guard found his niche back in his hometown of Atlanta.
  • Julius Brown, Toledo, Sr. (14.9 ppg, 6.0 apg): ‘Juice’ Brown helped lead the Rockets to a share of the MAC regular season title last season.
  • A.J. English, Iona, Jr. (17.2 ppg, 4.3 apg, 3.9 rpg): English is the best player on an Iona team favored to win the always-competitive MAAC.
  • Cameron Payne, Murray State, So. (16.8 ppg, 5.4 apg, 1.7 spg): The Memphis-native had a terrific freshman season trying to replace the production left when Isaiah Canaan graduated.

HONORABLE MENTION: D.J. Balentine (Evansville), Joel Bolomboy (Weber State), Karl Cochran (Wofford), Brett Comer (Florida-Gulf Coast), Juan’Ya Green (Hofstra), Martez Harrison (UMKC), Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington), Damion Lee (Drexel), Tshilidzi Nephawe (New Mexico State), Andrew Rowsey (UNC-Asheville), Bernard Thompson (Florida-Gulf Coast), Marcus Thornton (William & Mary), Seth Tuttle (Northern Iowa), Isiah Umipig (Seattle), Jameel Warney (Stony Brook), Kyle Wilson (Army)