By: Jeremy Leopold & Matthew MacCormack
For the first time since 2006, the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year trophy is returning to Huntington Avenue.
T.J. Williams became the second CAA Player of the Year in program history Thursday night, joining NBA veteran J.J. Barea as the only Huskies to bring home the award.
“It definitely means a lot,” Williams said in the CAA’s video announcement of the award winners. “I know before the season I sat down by myself and I kinda transformed my mind.”
You can find the full CAA awards list here.
Despite receiving no preseason award recognition, the senior point guard emerged as the POTY favorite early in the season. The Pflugerville, Texas native led the CAA in scoring with 21.6 points per game, and finished tied for first in assists with 5.3 per game. Williams topped the 20-point mark 18 times in 2016-17, all while playing the 3rd most minutes per game in the nation.
Last Thursday night at Elon, Williams also became the first NU player since Barea to tally a triple-double, with a 26-point, 12-rebound, 10-assist effort in the Huskies’ double-OT victory.
Perhaps making William’s season even more impressive was the improvements he made from last year’s campaign. After averaging just 6.8 points per game in 2015-16, Williams’ +14.8 year-over-year scoring increase was one of the best marks in the country. In his four years on Huntington Avenue, Williams has amassed 1,362 points, good for 15th all time on Northeastern’s scoring list.
“I’ve been here for four years and I feel like each year has been a learning experience,” Williams said.
— Northeastern MBB (@GoNUmbasketball) March 3, 2017
Begley quietly enjoyed a breakout campaign this year as well, enjoying career-highs in points (9.7), rebounds (3.7) and assists (3.3). The junior’s defensive contributions were highlighted by the conference thanks to a CAA-leading 1.8 steals per game. The 6’4 guard from Pearland, Texas showed off his defensive prowess at the top of NU’s 2-3 zone, and earned a starting role after sophomore Donnell Gresham was sidelined with injury.
You can catch both Williams and Begley in action on Saturday night, when the No.6 Huskies take on the No. 3 Towson Tigers in the CAA Tournament in Charleston, South Carolina. WRBB coverage will start at 8 pm. Listen here: http://www.wrbbsports.com/listen-live/