It’s no secret there was deep disappointment in the Javon McCrea camp when University at Buffalo’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 Wednesday 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 had 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 for Mark Montgomery of Northern Illinois. Tod Kowalcyzk of Toledo 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 last 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(57.7) and 10th in assists at 2.7 a game.
No other active player in the nation can match McCrea’s career statistical 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 all-time in scoring, 18th in rebounding and fifth in blocked shots. Only MAC three players — Ron Harper (Miami), Brandon Hunter and Gary Trent (both Ohio U.) — had 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in their careers.
As a junior McCrea averaged 18 points and 7.9 rebounds but saw the MAC Player of the Year go to Ohio guard D.J. Cooper who, like McCrea, was three-time first-team all-MAC. Cooper averaged 14.1 points and 7.1 assists last season.
UB placed third overall in the MAC this season at 13-5 (19-9 overall) and claimed an outright East Division title for the first time. The Bulls open the MAC Tournament at 9 tonight in Cleveland with a quarterfinal game against Eastern Michigan (20-13), a 53-48 winner over Northern Illinois late Wednesday. UB beat the Eagles in their lone meeting this season.
McCrea is the third UB player 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 Player of the Year award this season. Canisius guard Billy Baron was selected in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
The UB women (17-12), seeded fourth, open Mid-American Conference Tournament play at noon today (Radio 1270) with a third round game against Ball State (16-15). The Cardinals beat Northern Illinois, 61-47, Wednesday afternoon.