3 Bradley men’s basketball players honored

PEORIA — The Bradley Braves opened Missouri Valley Conference tournament week on Tuesday with a big win in the league awards.

Bradley guard Terry Roberts, guard Connor Hickman and forward Rienk Mast all took Valley honors.

Roberts was named the Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Year and earned a spot on the Valley All-Conference First-Team Team, while Hickman was named to the Missouri Valley Conference freshman and Mast landed on the Valley Conference third team. team.

“I’m happy about it,” Roberts said. “I really felt that I had to show that I belonged in the conference, that I could play at this level. Without my teammates and my coaches, I couldn’t have done all of this.”

Roberts is the seventh player in Bradley School history to earn newcomer honors and the first player in 11 seasons to be named to the all-MVC first team.

He is in excellent company with other Braves who have earned newcomer honors, including Marcellus Sommerville (2004), Seymour Reed (1972), Jim Caruthers (1973), Mitchell Anderson (1979), Hersey Hawkins (1985) and Dion Thurman (1989).

COMPLETE LIST :Missouri Valley Conference Awards

Terry Robert:How a Bradley Basketball Player Became ‘Mr. 40’ and found its way from NYC parks to Peoria

Roberts’ first-team MVC slot is the first for a Braves player since Andrew Warren in 2010-11, while also becoming the fourth in school history to earn the honor in his freshman year on the campus – joining Chet Walker (1960), Curtis Stuckey (1990) and Sommerville (2004).

Bradley brought in Roberts as a transfer from Southwest Florida State, and he led the Braves with 14.4 points, 4.2 assists and 1.53 steals in his freshman year. He ranks 11th overall in the Valley in points, second in assists and second in steals, and added 5.0 rebounds per game.

Roberts has been named MVC Newcomer of the Week four times this season, while also garnering Player of the Week honors after earning Sun Bowl MVP accolades in December.

Bradley's Rienk Mast listens to his coaches during a time out as the Braves take on St. Joseph on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 at Carver Arena.

Mast led all Valley players with 8.3 rebounds per game, and is the most by a Bradley player since NBA lottery pick Patrick O’Bryant in 2005-06. He scored 11.6 points per game — and a BU-best 13.9 points during conference play — while ranking second on the team in blocks (28) and third in assists (43).

“Being on the list is just a small touch on the cake,” Mast said. “The good part comes in the valley tournament. The frosting on top is a championship, and that’s what I want.”

Connor Hickman: When this freshman guard got better, so did Bradley’s basketball

Hickman is the seventh Braves player in seven seasons under coach Brian Wardle to earn MVC All-Freshman team accolades — two more than any other team in the league during that span. The rookie ranks second among all conference freshmen with 6.7 points and 32 3-pointers, while also being one of the best perimeter defensemen on the team.

Bradley's Connor Hickman (10) defends against Southern Illinois' Dalton Banks in the first half Saturday January 22, 2022 at Carver Arena.  The Braves defeated the Salukis 70-62.

“I’m very happy and very lucky to be recognized in the valley, there are so many good players,” Hickman said. “I wouldn’t have reached the level I played without my teammates and my coaches who always pushed me to play better.”

Northern Iowa guard AJ Green edged out Missouri State’s Isiaih Mosley for the Larry Bird MVC Player of the Year honor.

Drake’s Tucker DeVries was MVC Freshman of the Year, Lucas Williamson (Loyola) was Defensive MVP and Bowen Born (Northern Iowa) was Sixth Man of the Year.

Dave Eminian is the Journal Star’s sports columnist and covers men’s basketball for Bradley, the Rivermen and the Chiefs. He writes the sports column Cleve In The Eve for pjstar.com. Contact him at 686-3206 or deminian@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.

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