CAA Basketball: Awards and Tournament Preview

The Colonial Athletic Association is once again one of the most wide open conference tournaments in NCAA division one basketball. The CAA has a strong history of being a top five mid-major conference while simultaneously claiming an incredible amount of parity. The CAA boasts multiple teams with Final Four runs, and many more first round upsets from conference representatives.

 

CAA Awards

First Team

G: Aaron Estrada, Hofstra

G: Camren Wynter, Drexel

G/F: Jaylen Sims, UNCW

F: Cameron Holden, Towson

F: Dylan Painter, Delaware


Second Team

G: Jameer Nelson Jr., Delaware

G: Vado Morse, James Madison

G/F: Nicholas Timberlake, Towson

F: Chris Doherty, Northeastern

F: Charles Thompson, Towson


Third Team

G: Darius Buford, Elon

G: Zach Cooks, Hofstra

G/F: Mike Okauru, UNCW

G/F: John Meeks, Charleston

F: Amari Williams, Drexel


All-Rookie Team

G: Reyne Smith, College of Charleston

G: Tyler Rice, William & Mary

F: Trazarien White, UNCW

F: Jyare Davis, Delaware

F: Ben Burnham, Charleston


All-Defensive Team

G: Dimitrius Underwood, Charleston

G: Mike Okauru, UNCW

G/F: Cameron Holden, Towson

F: Charles Thompson, Towson

F: Amari Williams, Drexel


POY: Aaron Estrada, Hofstra

ROY: Reyne Smith, Charleston

DPOY: Amari Williams, Drexel

COY: Takayo Siddle, UNCW

 

CAA Tournament Preview


Towson is the heavy favorite to win the conference tournament and represent the CAA on the national stage of the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers are set to be the top seed after finishing the 15-3 in CAA play and owning the tiebreaker over UNCW, who also finished 15-3.


Contenders

  1. Towson: The CAA favorite has earned that title. The Tigers are the most complete team with the conference, and the hottest team entering the CAA tournament. Towson has the most size and athletic roster in the CAA, and the highest number of guys who can be the difference in winning or losing. Holden, Timberlake and Thompson all have arguments to be on the All-CAA First Team. Add Jason Gibson and Terry Nolan Jr. into the mix and you have a high-major lineup. What really impresses me about Towson is how Pat Skerry has been able to fill every necessary role with perfect pieces that fit like a puzzle. Thompson is the rim protector, Nolan is the passer, Timberlake is the three level scorer, Gibson is a three point specialist, Holden is the versatile glue-guy on top of scoring 13.6 points per game. It won't be an easy feat, but Towson is my pick to be crowned champions of the Colonial.

  2. UNCW: What can you say about the Seahawks? According to every metric at our disposal, UNCW should be no better than a middle of the pack team. Instead, the Seahawks were co-champions of the regular season with Towson. Led by POY contender Jaylen Sims, UNCW has shocked CAA fans and pundits alike. UNCW's 12 game winning streak to start conference play broke the all-time school record for most consecutive wins. In over half of those wins, UNCW trailed by double-digits, usually in the second half, but consistently found a way to claw back into games and steal them before the final buzzer sounded. UNCW does a great job of limiting live ball turnovers while forcing their opponents in an above-average amount of live ball turnovers, which typically has made up for the Seahawks lack of consistent rebounding. This team is full of guards who play bigger than their listed height and who hit big shots in big moments. Despite what Vegas thinks (UNCW is +1100 to win the CAA tournament), don't count this rag tag squad out.

  3. Hofstra: In a normal year, Hofstra would probably be the 1-seed. This is a talented group led by head coach Speedy Claxton that excels at shooting the three ball, free throw shooting, and perimeter defending. Aaron Estrada, Jalen Ray and Zach Cooks makeup arguably the best perimeter in the CAA, all while having a strong interior presence of Arkansas transfer Abayomi Iyiola, and another great scoring guard in Omer Silvario, who scored a conference high 40 points in a single game this season. Hofstra pushed Final Four contender Houston to overtime, lost to Maryland by two, and beat Arkansas, all of which were on the road.


Sleepers

  1. Drexel: Drexel will be a really tough out. Cam Wynter, a POY contender, leads the Dragons in scoring and assists. Amari Williams and James Butler are both very effective, albeit different, big men who keep the Dragons interior presence solid throughout the 40 minutes of game action. Drexel won at Saint Joseph's, forced OT at Tulane, and looked very respectable in a 75-60 loss at Syracuse.

  2. Elon: This one may be a bit of a stretch, but Elon has shown in spurts how good they can be, all while possessing possibly the second biggest/athletic roster in the CAA. Led by sophomore stud Darius Buford and Hunter McIntosh, Elon has beaten UNCW, Towson, and Hofstra, and ended the regular season winners of two straight. They get a crack at UNCW right off the bat on March 6th.





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