CALIFORNIA BAPTIST'S ACQUAAH NAMED WAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
California Baptist sophomore guard Milan Acquaah has been named Western Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week for the week of Nov. 12-18. This is his first-ever WAC Player of the Week honor.
The Bakersfield, Calif. native averaged 18.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 4.0 steals as the Lancers went 1-1 in a pair of road games last week. Acquaah scored 11 of the final 14 points, including a half-court buzzer beater for California Baptist as it defeated Oral Roberts 70-69 in the Lancers' first true Division I game last Tuesday. He finished the game with 16 points, five steals and four rebounds. The 40-foot game-winner earned the No. 1 spot on SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays of the Day. Acquaah followed it up with a near triple-double performance against Tulsa last Friday, tallying with 20 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds in a heartbreaking 82-79 loss.
Other nominees included: Damiyne Durham of CSU Bakersfield averaged 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists as the 'Runners went 2-1 on the week ... Grand Canyon's Damari Milstead averaged 11.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists as the Lopes went 2-0 on the week ... Xavier Bishop of Kansas City averaged 25.5 points, 5.5 assists and 2.0 steals on the week ... NM State's AJ Harris averaged 23.0 points and 1.5 assists ... Delante Jones of Seattle U averaged 15.5 points and 3.0 rebounds ... UT Rio Grande Valley's Lesley Varner II averaged 18.0 points and 8.5 rebounds as the Vaqueros went 2-0 on the week ... TJ Washington of Utah Valley averaged 14.0 points and 6.0 rebounds last week.
Kansas City's Xavier Bishop scored a career-high 28 points on 8-of-13 shooting against Eastern Washington on Nov. 17 ... CSU Bakersfield's Damiyne Durham was named to the all-tournament team at the Junkanoo Jam after averaging 11.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists ... Utah Valley center Baylee Steele pulled down a school-record 19 rebounds at BYU on Nov. 9 ... NM State's AJ Harris exploded for a career-high 31 points on an efficient 9-of-11 shooting night and propelled NM State past New Mexico, 98-94, on Nov. 17. He also went 6-for-6 from beyond the arc in the game the first Aggie to be perfect from three-point land (minimum 5) since Jahmar Young did it vs. Texas Southern (6-for-6) on Dec. 23, 2009 ... UTRGV's Lesley Varner II posted his second-career double-double and first of the season, scoring 15 points with 10 rebounds, two assists, a career-high three blocks, and two steals against Prairie View A&M on Nov. 14 ... CSU Bakersfield's Ricky Holden did not miss a shot (8-for-8 FGs, 5-for-5 3FGs, 4-for-4 FTs) on the way to a team-high 25 points against Antelope Valley to tie CSUB's Division I record for field goal percentage ... Grand Canyon had 51 rebounds against Delaware State, the third-most ever recorded in Division I play and just the fifth time they've recorded 50-plus rebounds in a game ... UTRGV sophomore Greg Bowie II scored a career-high 19 points in the season-opener against Texas A&M Commerce ... Seattle U's Morgan Means poured in a career-high 21 points vs. Bryant ... UTRGV fell to Oklahoma 91-76 in front of a crowd of 5,071, just 578 shy of the program record of 5,649 set on Jan. 24, 1981 vs. Lamar.
WAC STAT LEADERS
Grand Canyon leads the WAC in scoring (83.8), scoring defense (64.2), scoring margin (19.5), free throw percentage (74.2), rebounding (44.8), rebounding margin (11.8), assist-turnover ratio (1.2), offensive rebounds (16.0) and defensive rebounds (28.8), while Seattle U is tops in field goal percentage (47.2), field goal percentage defense (38.0) and blocks (4.0). CSU Bakersfield leads the WAC in three-point field goal percentage (38.7) and assists (14.4), while California Baptist is tops in three-pointers per game (10.0). Kansas City leads the league in steals (8.8), NM State is tops in rebounding defense (29.3), UT Rio Grande Valley leads the WAC in turnover margin (6.6) and Utah Valley is tops in three-point field goal percentage defense (31.6).
Individually, California Baptist's Milan Acquaah leads the WAC in scoring (17.5) and steals (3.3), while Utah Valley's Baylee Steele is tops in rebounding (8.8) and offensive rebounds (3.2), and is tied with UTRGV's Terry Winn III for the lead in defensive rebounds (5.6). NM State's Ivan Aurrecoechea leads the league in field goal percentage (69.6), while Seattle U's Aaron Nettles is tops in three-point percentage (69.2) and Grand Canyon's Gerard Martin leads the WAC in free throw percentage (88.9). UTRGV's Javon Levi leads the WAC in assists (6.2), CSU Bakersfield's Damiyne Durham is tops in three-pointers per game (3.0). Seattle U's Myles Carter leads the WAC in blocked shots (2.8), while teammate Morgan Means is tops in minutes per game (34.4). Grand Canyon's Damari Milstead leads the league in assist-turnover ratio (6.0).
RETURNING ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS
Of the five first team All-WAC players in 2016-17, just one returned for the 2017-18 season in Alessandro Lever of Grand Canyon. Two of the five second team honorees returned in Matej Kavas of Seattle U and Conner Toolson of Utah Valley.
One of the five All-Defensive Team honorees from last year returned – Oscar Frayer of Grand Canyon. Meanwhile, three of the five All-Newcomer Team honorees from a year ago returned in Lever, NM State's AJ Harris and Jake Toolson of Utah Valley.
GCU'S LEVER NAMED TO CENTER OF THE YEAR WATCH LIST
Grand Canyon sophomore Alessandro Lever is one of 21 college centers named to the preseason watch list for the 2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award. A national committee selected the candidates, which is presented by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The list will be narrowed to 10 centers in mid-February and then five finalists in March. Players can be added and deleted from the list during the upcoming season. Lever, the WAC Preseason Player of the Year, averaged a team-high 12.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game last season as a freshman. He earned All-WAC first team honors and was named WAC Freshman of the Year.
After three games, the WAC leads 2-1 in The Summit League/WAC Challenge. The Challenge features head-to-head competition between all nine teams. Matchups were set based upon factors including the previous year's achievements, records and RPI rankings, as well as projected rankings in the upcoming season. Those teams with home games in 2018 will play on the road in 2019 and vice versa. In addition, teams won't face the same opponent in back-to-back years.