This is part two of this week’s series about the Top 25 players in the New York metro area. You can read part 1, which has an explanation and players 21-25, here.
20. Isaiah Wilkerson, NJIT — The Great West’s Player of the Year doesn’t get a lot of recognition, but he’s a unique player that did more than just score for the Highlanders, who finished 15-17 this season. Wilkerson averaged 16.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game for NJIT this season. The rebounding is remarkable considering Wilkerson is a 6’3″ guard. I adjusted Wilkerson’s numbers for the strength of NJIT’s schedule and he still ranked amongst the elites in almost every category. Like many of the better known players on this list he was an efficient, high usage player. NJIT almost advanced to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, but fell to North Dakota 75-60 in the final. Wilkerson scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the loss.
19. Bryan Dougher, Stony Brook — A four-year starter under Steve Pikiell, Dougher and the Seawolves couldn’t quite get over the hump and into the NCAA tournament. The senior from Scotch Plains, NJ saw his usage drop slightly this season, but he numbers in general improved and he became a key offensive component for SBU. Dougher averaged 13.2 points per game and shot 36% from beyond the arc. Dougher scored 20 points on just nine shots from the field (and 7-8 free throw shooting) in a 66-57 win over Boston University midway through the America East campaign. Unfortunately he struggled a bit in his last America East game, shooting 2-12 from the field and scoring eight points in SBU’s loss to Vermont in the finals.
18. Douglas Davis, Princeton — Like Dougher, Davis is one of those players that seems like he’s been around forever. Turns out that’s because he sort of has. Davis played at least 30 minutes per game in each of his four season for the Tigers. During his senior campaign he upped his scoring average to 13.8 points per game and shot 42% from three and 83% from the foul line. By the time his career was over Davis had scored the second most points in Princeton history. It’s his outstanding senior season that put him over the top.
17. Jamal Olasewere, LIU Brooklyn — Olasewere had a breakthrough junior season. He improved in almost every category and in the process turned the Blackbirds into a more dynamic offensive team. In just 26 minutes per game Olaswere scored 16.9 points and grabbed 7.5 rebounds. He shot 57% from the field overall and 34% from three. Occassionally he had a few too many turnovers, often related to offensive fouls on difficult drives to the basket, but there’s an argument to be made that was also LIU’s most dynamic offensive player. That never proved more true than when he scored 32 points on a perfect 11-11 from the field in the Battle of Brooklyn against St. Francis (NY). It was one of 10 games in which the 6’7″ junior scored 20 points or more.
16. Reggie Willhite, Yale — There’s another Bulldog coming up later in this countdown, but Willhite deserves a lot of recognition. The 6’4″ swingman was a defensive menace, playmaker and an incredibly complete basketball player for Yale this season. He averaged 12.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.2 steals per game in 31.9 minutes. Willhite particularly killed Columbia, scoring 24 and 20 points in two victories over the Lions. He also scored 20 points in a four-point win over Princeton and 23 in a two-point win over Sacred Heart. On a team with no true point guard it was Willhite that sometimes had to make the plays that got other teammates open shots. It’s his defense though that puts him over the top. Willhite ranked 29th in the nation in steal rate at 4.2% and was named the Ivy League’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Check back tomorrow as I count down 15-11 and the Big East gets into the act.