By Bob DiCesare
It’s no secret there was deep disappointment in the Javon McCrea camp when UB’s star forward failed to capture the Mid-American Conference Player of the Year award as a junior. But by the end of his senior season there wasn’t much in the way of debate. McCrea today was named the conference’s top performer by an overwhelming margin in a vote of media members who cover the league.
McCrea, a native of Newark in central New York, received 20 of a possible 25 votes to outdistance Western Michigan guard David Brown, who placed second with three. WMU center Shayne Whittington and Toledo point guard Julius Brown each received a vote.
Steve Hawkins, who guided Western Michigan to the regular-season title and the top seed in this week’s MAC Tournament, was voted Coach of the Year, also by a substantial margin. Hawkins received 16 votes to four of Northern Illinois coach Mark Montgomery. Toledo’s Tod Kowalcyzk was next with three votes followed by UB’s Bobby Hurley with two.
McCrea became UB’s all-time scoring leader this season, a campaign during which he hit double figures in points and rebounds 15 times in the same game and in 10 of 18 conference games. He scored 25 points or more four times in the final nine regular-season games and struck for a career-high 34 points against Bowling Green on Senior Day Saturday.
“This is a very deserving honor for Javon who has meant so much to our program and to the league," Hurley said in a UB release. "He has had a monster season and he is the most complete player in the MAC. Playing at such a high level statistically and helping us win a MAC East Championship put him in a rare group of players that have achieved and accomplished what he has in his career and we are proud of him for that."
McCrea emerged as the leading scorer and rebounder in conference play, averaging 19.6 points and 9.6 boards. He was third in field goal percentage at 57.7 percent and, in testament to his excellent passing abilities, placed 10th in assists at 2.7 a game.
No other active player in the nation can match McCrea’s career statistically diversity of at least 1,900 points, 900 rebounds, 200 blocks and 200 assists. McCrea is three points shy of 2,000 career and 25 rebounds away from 1,000. Among MAC players he ranks 14th al-time in scoring, 18th in rebounding and fifth in blocked shots.
As a junior McCrea averaged 18 points and 7.9 rebounds but saw the MAC POY go to Ohio guard D.J. Cooper who, like McCrea, was three-time first-team all-MAC and one of the most dominant performers in conference history. Cooper averaged 14.1 points and 7.1 assists last season and led the Bobcats to a 14-2 MAC record compared to UB’s 7-9.
UB placed third overall in the MAC this season at 13-5 and claimed an outright East Division title for the first time in school history. The Bulls open the MAC Tournament at 9 Thursday night in Cleveland with a quarterfinal game against tonight’s Eastern Michigan-Northern Illinois winner.
McCrea is the third UB played to win MAC Player of the Year honors, joining Turner Battle (2005) and Mitchell Watt (2012). He is the second Big 4 player to win a conference POY away this season. Canisius guard Billy Baron was selected as the top player in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.