All-Illinois and All-Chicago Awards, 2018-19 Season

I think we can all agree it wasn’t the best year for basketball in the state of Illinois. Bradley is the state’s only NCAA Tournament representative, and the Braves are a No. 15 seed.

But despite the lack of team success, there were still some exceptional individual performances in the 2018-19 season that are worth diving into.

Players and coaches from schools in Chicago and its immediate suburbs were eligible for Chicago awards. (Namely, that’s Chicago State, DePaul, Loyola, Northwestern, and UIC.) Players and coaches from the 13 Division I schools in Illinois were eligible for Illinois awards.

We’ll get things started with the All-Illinois and All-Chicago teams, and then move into the individual awards below:

All-Illinois Team

Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois

Eugene German, NIU

Max Strus, DePaul

Cameron Krutwig, Loyola

Dererk Pardon, Northwestern

All-Chicago Team

Tarkus Ferguson, UIC

Max Strus, DePaul

Marques Townes, Loyola

Cameron Krutwig, Loyola

Dererk Pardon, Northwestern

Illinois Player of the Year

Eugene German, Northern Illinois

German, a 6-foot junior guard, was a beast this season, leading the Huskies to their best record in three years and their best KenPom finish since 2005-06. He averaged 20.4 points — which ranked No. 1 in Illinois, No. 2 in the MAC, and No. 41 nationally — with a 58.2 effective FG%.

German’s had a trio of 30-point games and also dropped 20 points and 10 boards in the Huskies’ upset of nationally ranked Buffalo. In NIU’s MAC Tournament run to the semifinals, he went bananas averaging 27 points on 66.7% shooting over three games.

Chicago Player of the Year

Cameron Krutwig, Loyola

No disrespect to Marques Townes, but finally I get to have my say on why Krutwig actually deserves superlative honors for Loyola.

Krutwig led the Ramblers in: usage, offensive rebounding rate, defensive rebounding rate, block rate, and fouls drawn per 40 minutes. He was second on the team in offensive rating and effective field goal percentage, trailing only 3-point specialist Cooper Kaifes in both. In MVC play, he also led the team in assist rate.

By various formulas, Krutwig held an edge over Townes. He had a nice edge in Value Add’s offensive and defensive efficiency ratings, and a slight edge in PORPAG, which is akin to MLB’s WAR. (PORPAG estimates how many more points per game a player creates compared to a “replacement,” or average, player.)

Illinois Freshman of the Year

Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois

Dosunmu, a top 50 recruit out of high school, lived up to the hype as a freshman. He posted 13.8 points, 4 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, and he did it all quite efficiently considering he’s a freshman with a pretty high usage rate (23.9%).

Dosunmu’s only big competition here was frontcourt teammate Giorgi Bezhanishvili, who also has a bright future with the program. The main differences in choosing Dosunmu over Bezhanishvili was that Dosunmu played more minutes with a higher offensive efficiency.

Chicago Freshman of the Year

Cooper Kaifes, Loyola

Kaifes is practically the default choice as the only local freshman who received major minutes. With Lucas Williamson injured, Kaifes was thrust into the starting lineup for nine games.

He was the Valley’s second-best 3-point shooter at 46.9%, trailing only Drake’s Brady Ellingson. Kaifes hit double digits in scoring eight times and made three or more threes in seven games.

Illinois Defensive Player of the Year

Elijah Childs, Bradley

Don’t worry. Illinois’ only state representative in the NCAA Tournament isn’t getting shut out of player awards. Childs, the Arch Madness MVP, took on a much larger load as a sophomore and delivered, averaging 12.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.

As those 1.4 blocks suggest, Childs was a handful defensively. The tempo-free efficiency numbers like Childs, too. In the MVC, he ranked No. 4 in block rate and No. 3 in defensive rebounding rate.

Chicago Defensive Player of the Year

Vic Law, Northwestern

Law was the anchor for Northwestern’s defense, which was the most efficient in the state and ranked in the top 20 nationally. In the Big, Law ranked in the top 21 in block rate and defensive rebounding rate.

Illinois Most Improved Player of the Year

Paul Reed, DePaul

Reed, a sophomore, was the breakout star in the city and the state. After averaging only 3.6 points in 9.9 minutes per game as a freshman, he was a nightly double-double threat in 2018-19, averaging 11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks.

Reed’s production only got better against tougher competition. In conference play, he averaged 13.3 points and 9 boards with six double-doubles.

Chicago Most Improved Player of the Year

Paul Reed, DePaul

See above.

Illinois Coach of the Year

Brian Wardle, Bradley

Wardle got some pretty bad press last week, but ultimately that doesn’t take away from his rebuilding job at Bradley. The Braves won five games in his first year on the job in 2015-16, and in year four of the Wardle era they earned their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2006.

After a solid non-conference campaign, Bradley opened MVC play at 0-5. They really got rolling in February, though, and became the hottest team in the Valley, which carried into Arch Madness. They enter the NCAA Tournament with a 20-14 record.

The Braves won their three Arch Madness games by a total of 8 points. Sure, some luck goes with that, but credit is also due to good coaching.

Am I promoting the brand enough?

Chicago Coach of the Year

Porter Moser, Loyola

Like Chicago Freshman of the Year, this award comes by default. Yes, Loyola won a conference title and Moser, in the grand scheme of things, did a really good job following up on last year’s Final Four run.

But Moser didn’t have much competition as the top coach in Chicago this year. Loyola enters the NIT at 20-13 (60.6%). None of the other four Chicago metro area schools have a winning record.

Author: Jesse Kramer

Jesse Kramer is the founder of The Catch and Shoot. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He has had work featured on, College Insider, The Comeback/Awful Announcing, and 247Sports.

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