End of season SMU basketball awards

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SMU’s season finished with a loss to Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference Tournament. Now that it is in the books, The Daily Campus’ sports staff voted on eight “awards” for the team. Here’s what we came up with.

Best Player – Shake Milton

Shake Milton was not only the AAC Player of the Week three times, but he also was named to the AAC Second Team for the second straight season. Milton was having a phenomenal season before he suffered a right hand injury that sidelined him for SMU’s final 11 games. His signature performance came against Wichita State when he scored 33 points to lead SMU past the No. 7 Shockers. Just four AAC players averaged more than Milton’s 18 points per game. – Olivia Pitten

Most Improved Player – Ben Emelogu

Ben Emelogu was a valuable role player for SMU last season. This year, with key scorers departing for the NBA, he was forced to do more. Emelogu raised his points per game from 4.3 to 10.7, and his 3-point percentage from 29.3 to 47 percent. This year’s percentage would have been even higher if he did not play through a nagging wrist injury. After looking hesitant to attack off the dribble last season, Emelogu looked much more comfortable doing that, showing off a spin move and step-back jumpshot. – Phil Mayer

Most Exciting Player – Jarrey Foster

Jarrey Foster has the ability to jump out of the gym. Thunderous dunks off of lob passes from Shake Milton brought fans in Moody to their feet instantly. Foster’s monster slam against UCF in December landed at #2 in SportCenter’s Top 10 Plays of the Night. His explosive leaping ability was lost for the season when Foster tore his ACL against Wichita State on January 17. – Jake Eichstaedt

Best Freshman – Ethan Chargois

Ethan Chargois was named to the AAC All-Rookie Team and named the AAC Rookie of the Week twice this season. The freshman from Tulsa, Oklahoma averaged 9.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per game this season, with his season-high of 23 points coming against ULM. – Olivia Pitten

Best Defensive Player – Jimmy Whitt

Jimmy Whitt is a straight nuisance on defense. The sophomore’s 6-3 175-pound frame makes him an ideal on-ball defender when you factor in his lateral quickness, long arms and active hands. Whitt averaged half a block and nearly 2 steals per game. In SMU’s win against Tulane, Whitt recorded steals on a remarkable four straight possessions, firing Moody Coliseum up more with each one. – Jake Eichstaedt

Best Shooter – Shake Milton

There is an abundance of worthy recipients for this award, as Jahmal McMurray, Shake Milton and Ben Emelogu all shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range. Milton was the pick here, as he shot 43.4 percent from 3 despite a high degree of difficulty on many of those shots. When he was healthy, the junior guard made several 3s from well beyond the arc and with the shot clock expiring. – Phil Mayer

Most Disappointing – Elijah Landrum

Elijah Landrum came into SMU as a three-star recruit out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. He had five other offers, most notably from Texas Tech and Houston. It is possible that SMU and Tim Jankovich looked to him as more of a developmental player – someone who would come off the bench this season to play limited minutes before being thrust into a bigger role later. Injuries, however, caused plans to change. Landrum played 17.5 minutes per game this season, starting many games after Milton went down. Offensively, he looked downright overmatched, shooting just 28.7 percent from the floor, and 24.7 percent from behind the arc. To put it simply, he was a liability on offense, lacking the shooting skills to produce. Defensively, however, Landrum looked pretty good. He hustled all over the floor and picked up nearly a steal per game. It was Landrum’s offensively abilities that made him a disappointment. Landrum showed flashes and he’s still young, but his shooting will need to improve for him to be valuable to SMU next year. – Jacob Prothro

Leadership Award – Ben Emelogu

It would make sense that SMU’s best leader would be its only true senior and its longest tenured player, Ben Emelogu. The guard from nearby Grand Prairie was a true “glue guy,” and someone who brought the team together on the court. His hustle boosted SMU’s energy on the court, and helped the team out in key situations. “Gu” battled through injuries and constantly shifted his role to better suit the team throughout the season. Needless to say, SMU will miss him next year, and will need to look for another player to provide the team with some leadership. – Jacob Prothro

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