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Zach Pekale | | November 25, 2020

DII men's college basketball: Martin, Dreamer headline 2020-21's 1st starting 5

Washburn sinks Fort Hays State at the buzzer on DII college basketball opening night

The first week of DII basketball is in the books, which means it's time to bring back the starting five.

In case you're not familiar, this is our bi-weekly team of the week, crafted to highlight some of the top individual performances throughout DII. Teams are chosen using statistics as well as milestones and moments from throughout the week. Without any other delays, let's get into the first DII men's basketball starting five of the 2020-21 season.

Note: All games played through Monday, Nov. 23, were taken into account.

Cameron Henry โ€” Lincoln Memorial, guard

Henry's reputation in the South Atlantic Conference is for his lock-down defense. But the league's reigning Defensive Player of the Year showed that he can not only lock down the ball regularly, but also score. With Devin Whitfield out for the Railsplitters' season opener, Henry carried the scoring load with 21 points. He shot an efficient 7-of-12 from the field in a 80-62 win over Newberry while adding five rebounds and four steals.

Jalen Lewis โ€” Washburn, guard

The Ichabods came out firing to open their season and Lewis was at the forefront of the 3-point barrage. Washburn knocked down 14 triples at a 48 percent clip in a win over Fort Hays State. Lewis buried five of those triples as all 15 of his points came by way of the long ball. But none was more important than his last shot โ€” a game-winning buzzer-beater (which you can watch above). Teammate Tyler Nelson fed Lewis, who took a dribble to his left and fired away just before the horn for some opening-night heroics in in a 80-78 win over Fort Hays State.

MORE: 5 MIAA teams that could challenge Northwest Missouri State

Ja'Zere Noel โ€” Lincoln (Pa.), forward

The Lions are off to a 2-0 start for the first time in nearly a decade with Noel playing a major role. The Jefferson transfer has taken on the unofficial title of offensive spark plug through two games at Lincoln. Noel has come off the bench in both appearances, averaging 21.5 points per game in a highly-efficient 26 minutes per contest. It's a small sample size, but it's possible that the Lions' new sixth man could be an X-factor in the CIAA.  

Cam Martin โ€” Missouri Southern, forward

Martin was a NABC All-American last year and his first two games of the new season are pretty good reminders why. The Lions' big man erupted for 27 points and 10 rebounds in a season-opening, one-point win over Central Oklahoma. He followed that with a resilient showing against Newman. Martin rebounded from a slow first half to score 16 of his 21 points over the final 20 minutes, adding 11 rebounds and seven assists as Missouri Southern edged the Jets 82-79.

LOOKING BACK: 7 numbers from DII basketball's opening weekend

Wes Dreamer โ€” Northwest Missouri, forward

Dreamer only attempted double-digit shots twice during his first season with the Bearcats. He took 10 in Northwest Missouri State's season-opening, 86-78 win over Rogers State. The significance of those shots is Dreamer's potential emergence. He and Diego Bernard were the Bearcats' primary scoring options in the first half as Trevor Hudgins and Ryan Hawkins had slow starts. Even as Hudgins heated up in the second half, Dreamer kept capitalizing on chances as he netted 13 of his 20 points after halftime. Last year was Hawkins' breakout for NWMSU. Could 2020-21 belong to Dreamer?