(Click Read More for details on both players and other nominees . . . )
Blake Hamilton, Buffalo, Wing
Senior, Pasadena, CA (Pasadena)
Hamilton led Buffalo to pair of wins over two of the top teams in the MAC West as Hamilton averaged 26.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 8.0 assists per game in victories over Central Michigan and Ball State. In the win over Central Michigan, Hamilton just missed a triple double as he had a game-high 27 points, while adding 11 rebounds and eight assists. He helped the Bulls to 101 points, their highest total in regulation against a MAC team since joining the league. Hamilton then followed it up on Friday night in a road win at MAC West leader Ball State. Hamilton had a game-high 25 points, while adding eight assists for the second straight game. Hamilton leads the Bulls in scoring and assists this year and he is second on the team in rebounding.
MAC Men’s Basketball West Division Player of the Week
Steve Taylor, Jr., Toledo, Forward
Senior, Chicago, IL (Simeon Academy)
Taylor, Jr. posted a pair of double-doubles last week and averaged a team-high 24.0 points, 15.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots per game. Taylor also registered a team-best 57.6 field-goal percentage (19-of-33) in the Rockets' road contests at Ball State and Bowling Green. Taylor opened the week with an impressive 23-point, 18-rebound outing against the Cardinals during which he shot 9-of-18 from the field. He was even more efficient against the Falcons by hitting 10-of-15 shots en route to a 25-point, 13-rebound effort. Taylor ranks second on the team in scoring with 16.0 ppg to go along with a MAC-best 12.5 rpg and a team-high 3.8 apg. He ranks third nationally in rebounding (through Feb. 4) and leads the country with 10.0 defensive rpg (just ahead of Purdue's Caleb Swanigan's total of 9.9). In addition, Taylor's 17 double-doubles are tied for second in the nation.
Antino Jackson, Akron, Guard
Junior, Houston, Texas (Cypress Springs)
Jackson (Houston, Texas) led the Akron Zips through a 1-1 week of Mid-American Conference play on the road. In an epic 15-point comeback to defeat Northern Illinois, 76-73, Jackson led the way with 22 points and five steals. Jackson shot 6-of-11 from the field, 4-of-8 from long distance and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line while grabbing two rebounds and dishing out one assist. Against Ohio (85-70), Jackson was Akron's second leading scorer with 14 points and grabbed a season-high five rebounds with five assists. Jackson shot 4-of-10 from the floor, 3-of-8 from downtown, and 3-of-4 from the free throw line. For the week, Jackson averaged 18.0 points per game while shooting 47.6 percent from the field (10-of-21) and 47.8 percent from beyond the 3-point arc (7-of-16). He also buried 9-of-10 free throws for a 90.0 percent rate while adding 3.5 rebounds (7), 3.0 assists (6), and 2.5 steals (5) per game.
Franko House, Ball State, Senior
Forward, Elkhart, Ind. (Concord)
House averaged 21.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game for Ball State last week. House recorded 19 points and nine rebounds Tuesday in the Cardinals' victory over Toledo. The win was the sixth for BSU in seven games. He then capped his week with a career-high 24 points to go along with six rebounds Friday against Buffalo. House connected on 55.6 percent (15 for 27) of his shots for the week while also adding three assists, three blocks and two steals. An All-MAC Second Team selection last year, House is averaging 13.3 points and 6.5 rebounds this season.
Zack Denny, Bowling Green, Guard
Senior Germantown, Ohio (Valley View)
Denny, a native of Germantown, Ohio, led Bowling Green to a 2-0 week by averaging 20.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 1.0 assist. Denny shot 50.0 percent (9-of-18) from the field, and a lethal 60.0 percent (5-of-5) from downtown. He scored in double figures for the 49th and 50th times of his career. Denny started off the week by scoring 10 points and pulling down four rebounds in an 83-72 win over Miami (Jan. 31). Over the weekend, the senior played his best game as a Falcon, as he led BGSU to its first win over arch-rival Toledo in nearly five years. Denny scored a career-high 30 points, while also adding seven rebounds, six steals, and one assist. He went 8-for-11 from the field, and a perfect 5-for-5 from three-point range. Denny was unbelievably clutch in the 104-100 victory in double overtime. He made three triples in the overtime sessions that either tied the game or gave BGSU the lead, including a game-tying three in the first overtime with six seconds left. He scored BG's final 10 points in the second overtime. He hit a tying three-ball with 1:18 to go, and then gave the Falcons the win by connecting on another three-pointer with 28 seconds to go. With BGSU trailing by one, Denny hit a right-wing three-ball that gave the Falcons a 102-100 lead. He then forced a turnover, and hit two game-sealing free throws with eight seconds on the clock.
Marcus Keene, Central Michigan, Guard
Junior, San Antonio, Texas (Warren)
Keene continued his standout season last week, as Central Michigan went 1-1 to remain one game out of first place in the MAC West. Keene averaged 29.5 points, 4.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals in games at Buffalo and at home versus Western Michigan. On Tuesday versus the Bulls, Keene scored 24 points and added three rebounds and three assists in a hard fought road loss. On Saturday, against rival Western Michigan, Keene further cemented his star status when he put the finishing touches on an 18-point CMU comeback as the nation's leading scorer, amid chants of M-V-P from the capacity McGuirk Arena crowd, nailed a 25-foot 3-pointer with 4.2 seconds remaining, sending the 5,412 Chippewa faithful on hand into a frenzy. For the game, Keene totaled 35 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals to fuel the victory. Keene has scored 30 or more points in 13 games this season, not the only the most in the nation this season but he is the only player to reach double digits. With at least nine games to play, Keene is just 65 points shy of breaking the CMU single season scoring record held by Dan Majerle.
Jimmy Hall, Kent State, Forward
Senior, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Hall had another stellar week, in which he posted team-highs for Kent State of 18.0 points, 11.5 rebounds and three assists per game. Hall shot 45 percent from the floor, making key shots down the stretch of two close road wins. At Eastern Michigan, Hall recorded team-bests of 24 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and three steals. Nine of his rebounds came on offense, helping Kent State score 22 second chance points. Down late against the Eagles, Kent State's comeback started with three straight jumpers from Hall that put his team up, 59-56. The Flashes never trailed after that. He earned his sixth double-double over the last seven games at Miami. Hall posted team-bests all around with 12 points, 12 rebounds four assists and three blocks. He picked up a team-high four offensive rebounds, leading the team to a total of 19. Once again, Kent State found themselves trailing late, this time by a point with 1:39 left. Hall immediately hit a turnaround jumper in the paint to give his team the lead back for good. Jimmy Hall carried a heavy load this week, with an average possession percentage of 36.5, the highest of any player among undefeated MAC teams this week.
Marin Maric, NIU, Center
Senior, Split, Croatia (La Lumiere School)
Maric averaged 18.5 points and 10.5 rebounds last week as the Huskies split a pair of games against Akron and Eastern Michigan. Maric opened the week with 23 points and 10 rebounds, going 9-of-15 from the floor, as the Huskies were edged by conference-leading Akron, 76-73. The senior from Croatia went 5-of-6 from the free-throw line against the Zips. In the second game of the week, Maric scored 14 points and added 11 rebounds as NIU downed Eastern Michigan, 81-69. The pair of double-doubles now give Maric six for the season and 20 in his NIU career. Maric ranks in the top-20 in the MAC in scoring as well as the top-10 in both rebounds and field goal percentage.
Jaaron Simmons, Ohio, Guard
R-Junior, Dayton, Ohio (Archbishop Alter)
Simmons (Dayton, Ohio) put together a monster week to help the Ohio men's basketball team (14-7, 6-4 MAC) split a pair of games over the fifth week of Mid-American Conference play. Simmons averaged a team-high 28.0 points, shooting 51.6 percent from the field -- including 77.8 percent (7-of-9) from three-point range and 81.0 percent (17-of-21) from the free throw line. He also averaged a team-high 5.5 assists per game as well as 5.5 rebounds and 0.5 assists. Simmons chipped in 18 points, a game-high six assists and a rebound in 33 minutes of work last Tuesday (Jan. 31) in a 90-85 loss to West Division foe Western Michigan in Kalamazoo, Mich. Simmons followed up that effort by scoring a career-high 38 points to power the Bobcats to an 85-70 win over MAC East Division rival Akron (19-4, 9-1 MAC) on Saturday (Feb. 4) in front of 10,101 fans at the Convocation Center. He put on a performance to remember in front of the Bobcat faithful, going 10-of-16 from the floor, a career-best 5-of-5 from three-point range and 13-of-16 from the free throw line. He notched 25 of his 38 points in the second half. His 10 made field goals and 13 made free throws matched career highs. He became the first Bobcat to score at least 35 points in a game since Armon Bassett tallied 38 at Miami on March 11, 2010. Simmons recorded his fourth double-double of the year and 11th of his career thanks to a season-high 10 rebounds. He also chipped in a team-high five assists and a steal in 40 minutes of work.
Thomas Wilder, Western Michigan, Guard
Junior, Montgomery, Ill. (Quakerdale Prep-Iowa)
Wilder averaged 25 points, 5.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.0 block over two games this past week. On Tuesday, he led helped the Broncos overcome a 21-point deficit to defeat Ohio, 90-85. Wilder tallied a game-high 29 points, scoring 20 points in the second half. On Friday at Central Michigan he totaled 21 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. With the two performances, Wilder's season scoring average rose from 17.7 ppg to 18.4.