Last season, Northwest men’s basketball was robbed. Specifically, then-junior forward Ryan Hawkins and then-sophomore guard Trevor Hudgins.
The Bearcats were one day away from hosting the Division II Central Region Tournament in Bearcat Arena before the world of sports was halted due to COVID-19. Northwest coach Ben McCollum should’ve had his second national championship in three years.
We’ll never really know what the postseason had in store for McCollum and company, but it’s nice to imagine.
However, it’s blatant that Hudgins and Hawkins were robbed of both the Bevo Francis Award and the NABC Division II Player of the Year.
The former is given to the best small college basketball player in the United States. The latter is decided by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, which uses a committee to decide postseason awards.
Let’s take a look at both of the players who ended up winning those awards, respectively.
The winner of the Bevo Francis Award was NAIA school Indiana Wesleyan’s then-junior guard Kyle Mangas. Now, I will say that at least the pair of aforementioned Bearcats were included in the 14 finalists for the award, so at least the Bevo Francis committee wasn’t all that ignorant.
In 2019-20, Mangas averages 26.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per contest while shooting 55% from the field and 38% from deep. The guard’s efforts were good enough to lead Wesleyan to a 29-4 record.
The winner of the NABC Division II Player of the Year award was Florida Southern’s then-senior guard Brett Hanson. Last season, Hanson averaged 22.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. Hanson led the Mocs to a 29-2 record, including a 118-109 win over Nova Southeastern in the Sunshine State Conference Tournament championship game.
Hawkins’ 2019-20 season included 22.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per contest while shooting 56% from the field and 45% from deep. Those numbers were good enough for Hawkins to be named to the MIAA First Team, and he won the MIAA Defensive Player of the Year.
His 726 points through 32 games was a team high. The next closest was Hudgins, who tallied 626.
Last year, Hudgins averaged 19.6 points and 6 assists per game while shooting 53% from the field and the exact same mark from three. Hudgins’ season was enough for the guard to be named the MIAA Player of the Year.
Hudgins’ 53% from deep wasn’t a fluke. It didn’t come off of a limited number with small sample size. Instead, he shot that high of a volume on 197 attempts from beyond the arc.
Both Bearcats led the team to a 31-1 record, including more time with Northwest as the No. 1 team in Division II.
“I’m not a big individual awards guy unless it adds fuel to the fire — but I think a lot of our guys were frustrated with that process as well,” McCollum said Oct. 1. “They’ll make sure to remember that and get themselves to a high level, motivationally.”
McCollum is aware the duo was robbed. From the sounds of things, Hudgins and Hawkins are aware, too.
Perhaps it’s a detriment to have two top-tier players in the country on the same team, but I sure didn’t think it’d mean both would be snubbed of both national awards.