Going to take a side step in the weekly numbers that have made America East play and offer more opinions on the players in it.
There is hardly any doubt who the best player in the America East conference is this season, you would be hard pressed to find any coach that says it is not Stony Brook senior Jameel Warney.
However, rule him out and when all nine coaches were asked who is the most impressive player in the conference, the answers varied between a few of the league’s top players.
Four of the coaches in the conference answered that UMBC redshirt sophomore Jairus Lyles has been the most impressive that they have seen on the other side.
“The numbers he’s putting up and the percentages he’s putting up are just really incredible,” one coach said of Lyles. “I keep waiting for him to kind of slow down, I think he’s the most impressive individual performer that i’ve seen, if you take Jameel out of it.”
“Lyles causes a lot of problems because he doesn’t turn the ball over and his shooting percentages are really good,” another coach said. “Usually guys on bad teams that average a lot of points are shooting like 40% they got a lot of turnovers, so he’s just really hard to guard.”
“Some of the things that he’s been able to do as he’s come into the conference is pretty impressive,” another coach said of the sophomore guard.
“The kid at UMBC has been unbelievable,” said another coach who sided with Lyles. “Every time I check a boxscore out, he’s been unbelievable.”
While another coach said he’s been impressed with Lyles, he thinks Stony Brook senior Carson Puriefoy belongs in the conversation as well.
“I would put Puriefoy up there too,” one coach said. “I think sometimes he gets understated because of Warney, but we couldn’t keep him in front of us.”
The rest of the votes were scattered amongst a few other players. Two coaches pointed out that they have been impressed by Vermont senior Ethan O’Day’s development.
“I’ve watched him grow as a player and I think defensively he’s a really good player,” one coach said. “I think his offensive skills have gotten way way better over the years.”
“If it’s not Jameel, then it’s between Tanner Leissner and Ethan O’Day,” another coach said.
Leissner and Lyles are both sophomores, but they are joined by one other sophomore in UMass Lowell’s Jahad Thomas, who one coach said has impressed him the most besides Stony Brook’s senior big man.
“I’ve seen him in the past, he seems to have a maturity about him this year,” one coach said of the 6’2” guard/forward for the River Hawks. “He really seems in control of what he’s doing and really seems, of all the kids I’ve seen, I like him the most.”
One other coach said he has been impressed by Hartford redshirt junior Pancake Thomas, who has scored plenty of points since transferring from New Mexico for the Hawks. “I think he’s been terrific,” one coach said.
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2015-16 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.