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In this week’s edition of On The Ball, NATION sports writer Justin Marville gives his picks for the Co-operators General Insurance Premier League Awards.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Jamar “Spanner” Headley (Hilton Barbados Warriors) 22.2 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 1.2 blk, 2.1 spg, 53% fg
Honourable Mention: John Jones (Lumber Company Lakers) 19.5 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 1.6 blk, 60% fg
Had Headley not missed six games this season I wouldn’t have listed an honourable mention, because in all honesty this award shouldn’t even be up for discussion.
Yet that time off the court only further builds his MVP case, as Warriors barely played .500 ball (3-3) without Headley but looked near invincible (8-1) while losing just one game all season when he was available.
And that’s not counting last week’s first-round sweep of Pinelands.
Still not convinced?
Well, the man they call “Spanner” not only led the league in scoring (yet again) but was the only player to finish in the top ten in points, rebounds, blocks, steals, field goal percentage and three-point percentage.
He’s clearly the league’s most impactful player, if not its best, and one who has put his club within striking distance of their first Premier League title in 15 years.
I mean, I’m open to hearing arguments for Jones, particularly after he spent most of the season holding together an undermanned Lakers side that had to overcome the offensive struggles of both Keefe Birkett and Mark Bridgeman.
It’s not like his numbers are anything to scoff at either when you consider the professional big man led the league in field goal percentage and was top five in scoring, rebounding and blocks.
MOST OFFENSIVE: Jamar Headley (Hilton Barbados Warriors)
Honourable Mention: John Jones (Lumber Company Lakers)
I’m not sure if this award is supposed to go to the man with the highest scoring average (Headley) or the one who leads the league in total points (Jones) but I guess you really can’t go wrong with either choice.
What’s the most impressive thing to me about Headley’s offensive numbers now is that he managed to extend his range out to the arc to shoot a more than respectable 33 per cent from deep.
So not only do you have to worry about getting beat down the floor by an athletic pogo stick that can finish anywhere around the rim, but now we’re saying he’s learning to spread the court too? Wow!
BEST DEFENSIVE: Jamar Headley (Hilton Barbados Warriors)
Honourable Mention: Charles Vanderpool (KFC Orange 3 Pinelands) 15.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.3 blk
So you’re now beginning to understand why Headley is the runaway MVP.
Now, I thought long and hard about giving this honour to Vanderpool, considering that he’s indeed the superior shot-blocker and plays better positional defence.
But what sort of impact could he have had on a side that gave up more points than every other team but St John’s and the schoolboys?
Now Headley, on the other hand, manned the backline for the league’s third-best defence and was just one of two players (Kiserian Adams being the other) to finish in the top ten in rebounds, blocks and steals.
MOST IMPROVED: Romaine Lovell (St John’s Sonics) 15.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg
Honourable Mention: Deroni Hurley (Combined Schools Tridents) 11.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 5.6 apg, 5.2 spg
I’m not a fan of giving awards to players who put up big numbers on losing teams, especially those that end up getting demoted, but it’s kind of hard to ignore Lovell’s 12-point improvement from last season to this one.
Of course, opportunity has a lot to do with it, but you still have to possess a level of skill to score more than 15 points in this league, especially when you’re one of your team’s few viable options.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Francis Williams (Lumber Company Lakers)
Honourable Mention: Adrian Craigwell (Station Hill Cavaliers), Frederick Bynoe (Hilton Barbados Warriors)
This award is on the premise that Lakers go on to cop the league title, and even if they don’t win it would be hard to ignore the man who coached his team to both the league and knockout finals.
Bynoe is a good pick here if Warriors take home the championship, and anyone could rightfully make a case for Craigwell for leading Station Hill to the league’s best record and another knockout cup. (JM)