2024 Delaware vs Towson - Men's

2024 CAA Basketball Player of the Year Predictions

2024 CAA Basketball Player of the Year Predictions

Much like the chase for its championship, the Coastal Athletic Association's competition for Player of the Year is crowded.

Feb 8, 2024 by Kyle Kensing
2024 CAA Basketball Player of the Year Predictions

A Coastal Athletic Association conference championship race featuring four teams within a game of first place heading into the final month also features a Player of the Year battle every bit as competitive. 

Plenty of season remains for someone else to emerge and claim the honor. Ahead of the closing stretch, however, the following quintet lead the pack in pursuit of CAA Player of the Year. Here's what to know about their candidacies. 

Jyare Davis, Delaware

Versatile forward Jyare Davis began February averaging 18.4 points per game, fifth-most in the CAA, and hauling in 7.2 rebounds a contest, good for sixth in the league. Among the league's top scorers, Davis is one of the most efficient with a 47.1 percent field-goal output. 

That's significant for Delaware's strategy, as things run largely through Davis; his 27.5 possession percentage and 28.9 shot percentage, via KenPom.com, rank No. 157 and No. 133 among all Div. I players. 

Delaware opened a big stretch on Feb. 3 with an 84-80 win over Monmouth in which Davis went for 19 points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots. Games against Towson, Charleston and Drexel over the coming weeks will go a long way in determining the Blue Hens' positioning in the CAA race, and if Davis delivers individual efforts similar to his showing vs. Monmouth, he'll be at the forefront of the CAA Player of the Year competition. 

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Xander Rice, Monmouth

There are two schools of thought when it comes to selection a Player of the Year: Is it reflective of the player who is most valuable to his team, demonstrated in wins and losses? Or is it a representation of being the most outstanding player? 

Monmouth's Xander Rice can make a case for CAA Player of the Year under both interpretations of the award. 

The transfer from Bucknell and son of Hawks coach King Rice has helped transform a Monmouth team that finished in the cellar of the CAA standings a season ago to a team vying for the all-important double-bye at the conference championship in Washington D.C. 

The 2024 Hawks have proven themselves capable of not just playing with, but defeating the leading title contenders of the CAA with Rice leading the way. His 22 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals powered Monmouth to a 67-62 win over CAA-leading Drexel on Feb. 1. 

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Monmouth could realistically close out the regular season with 19 wins; based on KenPom predictions, the Hawks would be 18-13 going into the CAA Championship and 11-7 in the conference. That's a result contingent on Rice, the Coastal's top scorer at 21.7 points per game, continuing to come up big. 

Such a remarkable turnaround from a year ago would ensure Rice at least some Player of the Year votes, if not an outright win of the award. 

Tyler Thomas, Hofstra

Arguably no player had a more impressive start to the month of February anywhere in college basketball than Hofstra's Tyler Thomas. 

His buzzer-beating jumper under duress, after going coast-to-coast, scored Hofstra a 72-71 win over Long Island rival Stony Brook. The shot provided the perfect crescendo to an all-around remarkable night. 

Thomas wasn't done. On Saturday, he was the difference-maker against Towson's stout defense, going off for another 23 points including 4-of-8 from 3-point range. Combined with his career-high nine assists, Thomas was responsible for more than 80 percent of the Pride's total points scored in a 59-56 win. 

Thomas' outstanding start to February marked a smooth transition from how he closed out January, as Thomas eclipsed 2,000 career points in a win over William & Mary. 

Hofstra is one of the CAA's hottest teams behind Thomas. The Pride have reinvigorated their championship aspirations after falling below .500 in consecutive one-possession losses, winning 5-of-6. 

Hofstra is two games behind league-leaders Drexel after February's first weekend, but the Pride draw the Dragons twice and close out with UNC Wilmington and Charleston. Hofstra doesn't control its own destiny per se, but if it wins out — not an unrealistic proposition — 21 wins and a potential repeat regular-season championship could bring a third straight CAA Player of the Year selection to Hempstead. 

Trazarien White, UNC Wilmington

No CAA player has a more prominent signature game in the 2023-24 season. Trazarien White's 27 points and 10 rebounds in an 80-73 win over Kentucky at Rupp Arena garnered national attention, and White's remained just as productive with another 28 points posted in SEC Country at Arkansas; and four games of 25-plus points since the beginning of the conference schedule. 

Those four games include a 25-point showing at Charleston, as the Seahawks scored a critical sweep of the reigning CAA champion Cougars. White grabbed nine boards in the win, falling just shy of his sixth double-double of the season. 

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White's averaging 20.3 points per game, good for fourth in the CAA, and seven rebounds a contest to rank eighth. In terms of his importance to the prolific UNC Wilmington offense, consider White is 49th among all Div. I players in shot percentage, and an incredible fifth in possession percentage.

He's also No. 7 in the rate at which he draws fouls, putting him in league with reigning Naismith Award winner Zach Edey and 2024 All-American candidates DaRon Holmes and Jaedon LeDee. 

Amari Williams, Drexel

With or without CAA Player of the Year, Amari Williams is headed to a legendary honor in 2024. The Drexel big man is likely to claim an unprecedented third consecutive CAA Defensive Player of the Year with almost two blocked shots per game, nearly a steal per game, and ranking among the top 50 players in Div. I for defensive rebounding percentage. 

Williams' defensive prowess and his role as the cornerstone of a Drexel team that leads the CAA behind a defensive-oriented approach has him firmly in the Player of the Year race. 

But while his basic offensive numbers may not scream top honors when compared to the prolific scorers throughout the league, it should be noted few players anywhere in basketball are as vital to their team's approach. His blocked-shot rate is 36th in the NCAA, and his presence is partially responsible for Drexel holding opponents to 45.6 percent shooting inside the 3-point arc. 

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Williams ranks 12th nationally in possession percentage at 32.6. When he's on the floor, the ball moves through Williams and defenses must adjust accordingly. That opens the floor for fellow Dragons Justin Moore — who has a compelling Player of the Year argument in his own right — Mate Okros and Luke House. 

Wiliams is also a force on the offensive glass, ranking 41st in Div. I for percentage of offensive rebounds secured. With Drexel ranked in the top 25 nationally for offensive rebounding as a team, Williams' place again shines through as absolutely vital.  

Drexel's push for the CAA regular-season championship pits the Dragons against a tough closing stretch, facing each of UNC Wilmington, Charleston, Hofstra and Delaware on the road. The visit to Hofstra is the second of two meetings with the streaking Pride. 

CAA Player of the Year Prediction

In the three months since the season tipped off, the CAA has been in line with college basketball as a whole in producing plenty of chaos. Amid the tumult of the 2023-24 season, however, the FloHoops preseason pick for 2023-24 CAA Player of the Year has steadily produced. 

UNC Wilmington's Trazarien White, tabbed for the honor in the beginning-of-the-year picks, remains front-and-center heading into the final month. If the Seahawks can claim the CAA regular-season championship, look for White to become UNCW's first honoree of the league's top individual award since Brett Blizzard went back-to-back in 2001 and 2002. 

If he can lead UNCW to the NCAA Tournament, is White capable of matching Blizzard in another way — scoring a 1st Round victory over a power-conference opponent? 

Just ask Kentucky if he's capable.