With seven games left in the regular season, it is safe to say the Freshman of the Year award is down to three candidates.
One of the candidates has become a ‘The Guy’ for his team. Another candidate is coming back off a calf injury and has back-to-back 15-point games under his belt. The third candidate is kind of on the outside looking in. But, due to an injury, the third candidate has been thrust into a bigger role.
Let’s take a look at all three.
Chendall Weaver – UT Arlington Mavericks
The 6-3 freshman from Mansfield, Texas has found his way into the Mavs starting lineup. Weaver just earned his third WAC Freshman of the Week award after averaging 20.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in a split with Sam Houston and Tarleton.
Weaver has played in all 24 games for the Mavs. Greg Young likes his freshman guard so much that Weaver has started in 17 of those 24 games. Weaver is shooting nearly 43 percent from the field and 37 percent from 3-point land. Third on the team in scoring at 9.3 points, Weaver is second on the team in rebounds with 104.
In a win over Sam Houston, Weaver scored 21 points and was a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line. Against Tarleton on Monday, it sure wasn’t Weaver’s fault the Mavs lost. Weaver had 19 points, was 6-9 from the field, including 4-5 from distance in the win.
Considering Weaver plays the second-most minutes for Greg Young, it’s safe to say the true freshman guard will be in the running for Freshman of the Year.
Adante’ Holiman – UTRGV
Holiman is a little behind the 8-ball in the race for Freshman of the Year. The McAlester, Oklahoma native missed the first seven conference games due to a calf injury.
Holiman’s first action in WAC play came at SFA on Jan. 25. Holiman played just five minutes in the 83-66 loss. The minutes ramped up three days later in Vaqueros 64-58 win over CBU. Holiman had just two points in 22 minutes against the Lancers.
But, fully healthy, Holiman showed what he could do over the past week. In a two-point loss to Sam Houston, Holiman came off the bench to play 27 minutes. Holiman was a perfect 5-5 from 3-point land en route to 15 points.
In the win at Tarleton on Saturday, Adante’ Holiman got the start, played 30 minutes, and was second on the team with 15 points. Holiman hit a trio of 3-pointers in the 68-65 win.
Perhaps the start was due to personnel matchups against Tarleton. Or, maybe Matt Figger has a lot of trust in his freshman guard. If he can stay healthy, Holiman will be in the mix at the end of the season.
Kobe Knox – Grand Canyon
There is potential for the 6-5 redshirt freshman to make noise in this race. Knox was thrust into an increased role when Jovan Blacksher Jr. went down with a season-ending knee injury. Since, Blacksher went down, Knox has played no less than 20-plus minutes in just two games. On Jan. 28 at Tarleton, Knox played a season-high 33 minutes, scoring 17 points in the loss to the Texans.
The big issue is the production. Chendall Weaver and Adante’ Holiman have the ball in their hands a lot. Thus, there are more opportunities for them to make plays. Knox has to bide his moments. But, when those moments come, Knox has made the most of them. From steals to highlight-reel dunks, Knox can make an instant impact. It is simply a matter of heeding the call when it comes from head coach Bryce Drew.
All three of the candidates listed play significant minutes. Perhaps the race will be similar to the Player of the Year where it comes down to where teams finish. Or, perhaps, it will simply be about who performs the best down the stretch.
Keep an eye on this race as it is starting to heat up with all three healthy.