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The First Annual Down the Drive Basketball Awards

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NCAA Basketball: Cincinnati at Southern Methodist Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

College basketball season is over. That’s somewhat sad, but its not the end of the world, especially since there is still a lot to look forward to next year. For the Cincinnati Bearcats, even though a loss to UCLA in the second round of the NCAA Tournament is the bitter flavor leftover from the campaign, it bears remembering just how strong a year it was before that. The Bearcats finished 30-6 overall, were nationally ranked just about all season and earned a win in the NCAA tourney for the first time since 2015.

Now that we have had some time to digest the year that was, its time to start handing out some virtual hardware. Below you will find the nominees for the first annual Down the Drive Basketball Awards. Sorry, for the lack of a snazzy name. Make sure to vote in the form below and we’ll release the results in the coming weeks.

Team MVP

There is no clear front runner for this grand daddy of them all award. UC was a team built on depth and had a number of strong performers, from senior stars like Troy Caupain, to transfer gold like Kyle Washington and rising under classmen like Jacob Evans. In all, there were four players with at least 4.0 win shares on the campaign, but its up to you to decide who wins this extremely priceless honor.

Nominees

  • Jacob Evans
  • Gary Clark
  • Troy Caupain
  • Kyle Washington

Defensive Player of the Year

This would have been an easy one to give out in 2016, as Gary Clark won the American Athletic Conference’s DPOTY award. Clark was not as dominant defensively this past season, but that can be credited partially to improved defense around him, especially from Kyle Washington. The Bearcats finished the season ranked No. 15 in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency, while having three players with a defensive rating below 95.0 and nine below 100. So, yeah, this team defended.

Nominees

  • Gary Clark
  • Kyle Washington
  • Troy Caupain
  • Jacob Evans
  • Nysier Brooks

Sixth Man of the Year

I’m not expecting much of a surprise here. This is Jarron Cumberland’s award unless there is an upswell of votes for the last year of #ToblerTime or if Justin Jenifer campaigns for it via Twitter.

Nominees

  • Jarron Cumberland
  • Justin Jenifer
  • Tre Scott

Freshman of the Year

Both Tre Scott and Nysier Brooks showed a lot of promise as big men for the cause as freshman, although both were cursed with bouts of inconsistency. Brooks led the team in block percentage (9.2 percent) and Scott ranked third (4.9), while both rebounded fairly well in limited time. However, like the category before this one, Cumberland should take this one easily. Cumberland ranked fifth on the team in scoring (8.3 PPG) and threw up shooting splits (.493/.355/.651) of a more experienced player.

Nominees

  • Jarron Cumberland
  • Tre Scott
  • Nysier Brooks

Most Improved Player

Jacob Evans was even better than Cumberland as a freshman, as he pushed himself into the starting lineup by season’s end. The leap he took as a sophomore was gigantic and a big reason the Bearcats will be in good hands once again next year. However, he was not the only player to improve his play from 2016 to 2017, as Kevin Johnson did a decent job replacing Farad Cobb and transfer Kyle Washington showed that he just needed opportunity to become a star.

Nominees

  • Jacob Evans
  • Kevin Johnson
  • Kyle Washington

Individual Performance of the Year

This is pretty self explanatory. Vote for the best single game by a single Bearcat this season.

  • March 17 vs. Kansas State - Troy Caupain 23 points, seven rebounds, 7-of-10 from the floor
  • Dec. 22 vs. Marshall - Jacob Evans 25 points, five assists, four steals, 4-of-5 from three-point rangeWho
  • Feb. 15 at USF - Gary Clark 13 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks
  • Feb. 4 vs. UConn - Kyle Washington 27 points, eight rebounds on 11-of-18 shooting (3-of-5 from three)
  • Jan. 29 vs. USF - Jarron Cumberland 26 points, four steals, three assists on 8-of-11 shooting (6-of-9 from three)

Game of the Year

This doesn’t have to be the most perfectly played game of the year or even the most important one, its just the game that you will remember most from this season.

  • at No. 19 Iowa State (55-54 OT win)
  • vs. Marshall (93-91 OT win)
  • vs. No. 24 Xavier (86-78 win)
  • vs. Kansas State (75-61 win in first round of the NCAA Tournament)

Now that you’ve seen who the nominees are its time to vote.