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Local basketball stars Baron, Green up for Lou Henson Award

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

Canisius’ Billy Baron and Niagara’s Juan’ya Green have been included in CollegeInsider.com’s 25 finalists for the Lou Henson Award, a honor given to Division I basketball’s top mid-major player.

In a surprisingly successful year for Western New York college hoops, Baron and Green have directed the charge for two of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s top four teams. Canisius is knotted with Rider for third in the MAAC at 10-6, and Niagara still holds the top spot by a game over Loyola (MD).

Vote for the Lou Henson Award on Facebook here—you must “Like” the “POINT 3 Basketball” Facebook page first in order to enter (annoying, but such is life). Once you’ve reached the page where the finalists are listed, select the mid-major star you’d like to vote for, then fill out the ensuing information (again, annoying).

Norfolk State’s Kyle O’Quinn, Butler’s Matt Howard and Oakland’s Keith Benson are the previous recipients of the Lou Henson Award, which is chosen after the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament. The fan vote counts for 33% of the final decision, as a voting panel of mid-major coaches holds the major sway in determining the winner.

A transfer from Rhode Island, Baron has given the Griffs a little of everything from the point guard position: scoring, leadership, distribution and toughness. He’s handled the pressure and scrutiny that accompanies being a high-major transfer and a coach’s son, and he’s helped guide a doormat program to unforeseen heights.

Rarely has a game passed where Baron hasn’t sacrificed his body on drives to the rim, often careening to the floor and rising gingerly. He was pummeled in Detroit and took a beating in Niagara, but it’s clear that Billy Baron will not go down without a fight, and that bodes well for the Griffs’ MAAC title hopes.

Here are Baron’s credentials:

16.5 points per game, sixth in MAAC
5.1 assists per game, first in MAAC
83.1% from free-throw line, fifth in MAAC
38% from downtown, seventh in MAAC

For Niagara, the sophomore Green has been Mr. Clutch (see a video compilation), canning game-winning and game-tying shots with regularity and orchestrating Joe Mihalich’s frenetic attack. It’s hard to believe the Philadelphia native is still an underclassman—he’s an exceptional defender at the top of Niagara’s 2-3 zone, he’s a willing rebounder and a highlight-reel distributor.

Perhaps more impressive was Green’s contributions with fellow guard Antoine Mason on the shelf in the heat of conference play—Mason missed the contests against Canisius, Manhattan, Rider and Marist. In his stead, Niagara’s No. 10 scored 18 or more points in three of the four games and played 157 of the possible 160 minutes. The Purple Eagles only went 2-2 in that four-game stretch, but the wheels could have completely come off.

Here are Green’s credentials:

16.8 points per game, fifth in MAAC
5.0 assists per game, second in MAAC
80% from free-throw line, seventh in MAAC
1.9 steals per game, third in MAAC
37.7 minutes played per game, first in MAAC

Competition is stiff for the designation this year, as there are a bevy of deserving mid-major studs: Creighton’s Doug McDermott, Iona’s Lamont “MoMo” Jones and South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters have to be considered favorites, while Ohio’s D.J. Cooper, Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan and Bucknell’s Mike Muscala are dark-horses. Best of luck to Baron and Green, Western New York’s two representatives in the race for a coveted mid-major award.

(Photos courtesy of Robin David Brown from the Niagara vs. Canisius game at the Gallagher Center—see the full gallery).

TAGGED: billy baron, canisius griffins, collegeinsider.com, juan'ya green, lou henson award, maac basketball, niagara purple eagles

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