Wes Dreamer Washburn

Sophomore forward Wes Dreamer converts a breakaway dunk over Washburn Jan. 7 in Bearcat Arena. Dreamer led the Bearcats with 24 points in the 84-82 overtime loss for Northwest. 

Hello and welcome to the second edition of my mailbag column. The main premise, of course, is to focus on anything regarding Northwest Athletics. Whether it be a question about soccer’s recruiting class in 2021, or the chances of men’s basketball winning another national title, I’ll answer it. 

Who has a better chance to win POTY, Trevor Hudgins or Ryan Hawkins? And why?

Is both an acceptable answer? I’m kidding, but somewhat not.

I don’t think there’s any doubt these two will be in the conversation for the MIAA Player of the Year, as well as the Bevo Francis Award, which is given to the nation’s best small college basketball player.

Hudgins won it last year, with Hawkins claiming Defensive Player of the Year. At this moment, I think Hudgins has the upper hand in the conversation.

Through seven games, the junior guard is averaging a team-high 20 points and 5.4 assists per game while shooting 56% from three.

Hawkins, a senior forward, is 19.3 points and 7.6 rebounds per contest while shooting 50% from the field.

They’re both monumental toward the success Northwest has had during their tenures, and the conversation could really go either way. If I had to guess right now, I’d say Hudgins gets it. However, that could certainly change with 15 games left in the regular season. If I were a betting man, I’d for sure put my money on one of those two.

What more does Trevor Hudgins have to do to be the best who ever did it for Northwest?

For Trevor Hudgins to be the best basketball player to ever play in a Bearcat uniform, he simply has to continue being Trevor Hudgins.

On multiple occasions, Hudgins has said he’s a distributing point guard, which is impressive considering he’s had 41 20-point games in 77 contests at Northwest. That isn’t me trying to point out that Hudgins contradicted himself, more so showing that he’s a pass-first guard and can still score at will.

The junior out of Manhattan, Kansas, is No. 7 on the program’s all-time assists list (432) and will probably be in the top five by the end of this season. He’s currently chasing his predecessor, Justin Pitts, who is No. 1 on the list (575), and who most people believe to be the best Bearcat hooper ever.

He’s already passed Pitts for most in a season — twice. Hudgins is No. 1 and 2 on the list for most assists in a season, and his best was throughout his first campaign as the starter (203).

He’s also No. 7 for most 3-pointers made in a career at Northwest (200). Ryan Hawkins is No. 4 on that list with 215 and I wouldn’t be surprised if Hudgins catches him by the end of the season. Nobody will ever catch Zach Schneider’s record of 370, but Hudgins can’t have all of the records, right?

I could continue to list out Hudgins’ accomplishments, but you get the point.

As I said before, for Trevor Hudgins to be the best basketball player to put on a Northwest uniform, he simply has to continue doing what he’s casually done for multiple years now.

And, don’t forget, Hudgins dropped 27 on Duke during the first game of his sophomore season.

Why do people not really care about Northwest track and field?

I really couldn’t tell you.

Maryville is a town that likes winners and good teams, so there isn’t much logic to not supporting track and field.

I mean, the program had 20 All-Americans during indoor season last year. If that doesn’t tell you how well the team did, then I don’t know what will. The Bearcats qualified 16 athletes for the NCAA Championships before COVID-19 put a halt to the world of sports, effectively ending their season.

Brandon Masters took over the program before the 2018-19 school year and had immediate results. Between luring transfers from Division I programs, recruiting new talent and bettering the athletes inherited, Masters, along with Nick Gibson, turned the track and field team into a force in the MIAA.

I wouldn’t be shocked if the Bearcats, both men and women, are holding conference trophies at the end of the year. I’d expect the men’s team to qualify back to nationals, too, and the women certainly have a chance.

Is this year’s men’s basketball team better than 2018?

I knew this question was eventually coming, and I’m thankful that someone asked it.

I genuinely don’t think there is a Division II team in the country that could compare to that 2018-19 team. This isn’t a knock to this year’s Northwest men’s basketball team by any means, that other squad was just that good.

I mean, we got to see Trevor Hudgins emerge as one of the best Division II players in the country, Joey Witthus was robbed of the Bevo Francis award, Ryan Hawkins was as dominant as ever, Ryan Welty was one of the best 3-point shooters in all of college basketball and Diego Bernard had as high of a motor as a piece of American muscle.

That’s just the starting five.

That team went 38-0, making it one of two teams to ever win 38 games in one season (Kentucky, 2015).

The 2018-19 team won by an average of 20 points per contest and made more than 10 threes a game. I don’t think people actually realize how good that team was, or the fact the Bearcats beat Saint Anselm in the Elite Eight semifinals by 23. Like, what other team wins by 20 in the national semifinals? Alabama, maybe?

So, the 2018-19 team has to be my pick here. This year’s team is damn good, but that other team was perhaps one of the best, if not the best, Division II basketball teams there will ever be.

Is Northwest football worth the hype?

Simply put, yes.

Northwest football deserves the hype it gets every year, and let me tell you why.

There are seldom schools across all NCAA divisions that have had the continuous success to match Northwest football. I could say the Bearcats don’t deserve hype because they haven’t won a national title since 2016, but that’d be asinine.

Sure, perhaps the Bearcats haven’t been the pinnacle of Division II football in four years, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth the hype — they were two wins away from a national championship in 2019.

Every single year, no matter who you ask, Northwest football is in the conversation to win the MIAA. Along with that, they’re always expected to be ranked in the top 10 and eventually make a deep run in the playoffs.

Seasons that are deemed a disappointment by fans of Northwest are the same season other programs dream of.

So for those reasons, and more, yes, Northwest football is worth the hype.

Walk-the-talk is a mailbag that focuses on all things Northwest Athletics. To submit a question for the next edition of the mailbag, tweet @ByJonWalker or email j.walker.missourian@gmail.com.

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