COLUMN: Forget what the MAC says —Keene is the real Player of the Year
Marcus Keene was robbed.
Somehow, in the Mid-American Conference, you can lead NCAA Division I basketball in scoring, but not be good enough for the MAC Player of the Year award.
Keene was the first MAC player to lead the nation in scoring in 50 years, yet Akron's Isaiah Johnson, who averages about half of the points that Keene averaged, was named Player of the Year.
There is only one way to put this — Keene was robbed.
The MAC’s argument for Johnson was that Akron had a better record than Central Michigan. Since POTY is an individual award, there is no question that Keene deserves the award after putting up numbers the MAC hasn't seen in decades.
This is just another chapter in the dreadful saga that is MAC sports. Instead of going after the conference he plays in, we should commemorate and congratulate Keene's unbelievable and improbable season.
The junior guard scored 41 points in CMU's 116-106 loss to Kent State in the first round of the MAC Tournament Monday night. Keene finished the year with seven 40-point games, two more than any other Division I player in the last 20 seasons.
Keene's average was at 29.9 points per game after the Chippewas’ final game on March 6, but the NCAA officially ruled to round up his scoring average to 30. That makes him the first Division I player since Long Island's Charles Jones in 1996-97 to average 30 points for an entire season.
Earlier in the season, head coach Keno Davis said he didn’t his star guard being able to keep scoring like Keene had. The sharpshooting guard tallied 17 30-point games this season in addition to seven 40-point game performances.
Massive scoring outputs — like the time when Keene hung a McGuirk Arena record 50 points against Miami (OH) — helped put him in the national spotlight. Keene has made multiple appearances on ESPN's “SportsCenter” and has even made an appearance on the “CBS Evening News.”
During his breakout season, Keene saw his name on the Late Season Wooden Award list and the Naismith Top 30 list, but didn't make the cut for either award.
Keene also became the MAC and CMU leader in points scored in a single season this year, a record previously held by Ohio's Dave Jamerson. He was also the first player in the conference to surpass 900 points in a season.
Keene's improbable journey started at Youngstown State where he played for two years before transferring to Central Michigan to play with a rival Texas rival, senior guard Braylon Rayson. Keene was forced to sit out for a year because of NCAA transfer rules, but that seemed to motivate him more than anything.
With his junior season over as the Chippewas will likely not receive an invite to a postseason tournament, the only question that remains is if Keene will stay in college for his final year of eligibility, or forego his senior year and declare for the 2017 NBA Draft.
After his incredible season was cut short, Keene's historic performance this year will be remembered for a long time, even if he was not named the MAC Player of the Year.