Happy New Year, DII men’s basketball fans. Before we head into the heart of conference play and start finalizing those bracket resumes, let’s look back at the final month of 2022 and the players who stood out, statistically speaking.
The December team has a few new faces from November’s debut squad. As a reminder this is the all-stats team. This isn’t the best players at each position per se, but a dream team based purely on statistical leaders in DII men’s basketball. Some may be outright No. 1 in a single category, while others are sometimes top-five in several categories.
DREAM TEAM: The November All-Stats Starting Five
The December DII men’s basketball All-Stats Starting Five
(Note: All games through Dec. 31, 2022, per NCAA.org)
Guard — Akuel Kot, Fort Lewis
DII’s leading scorer returns to the December all-stats team because, well, because he’s still DII men’s basketball’s leading scorer. Kot is scoring 26.2 points per game, nearly 11 more than his career high set last season. He is also shooting extremely well, hitting 51.6% from the field and 43.2% from 3-point land.
Guard — Dallas Graziani, Nova Southeastern
The Sharks are scoring more than 107 points per game and are undefeated to start the season despite losing some key pieces from last year’s team. Graziani is a large reason why. While he “only” scores 10.2 points per game, he leads DII in assists per game (6.9) and records 2.50 steals per game, a top-15 mark in DII. He is the non-stop motor that keeps the high-octane offense and pressure defense rolling.
Honorable mentions: Bryce Butler, West Liberty; Javeon Jones, Catawba; Kelvin Jones, Emmanuel (GA); Dante Moses, New Mexico Highlands; Sesan Russell, Florida Tech
SURPRISE STARTS: 11 teams surprising us with a red-hot beginning to the season
Forward — Kevin Kone, Lincoln (MO)
Kone transferred in this season from Georgia Southwestern and is a large reason Lincoln has seven wins after winning four all last year. He scores 15.4 points per game on a nice 51.3% shooting but is a weapon in the paint. His 14.0 rebounds per game leads DII, but more importantly, he gives the Blue Tigers second chances with a DII-best 5.25 offensive rebounds per game.
Forward — Inady Legiste, Tusculum
This was tough. I could have picked RJ Sunahara who leads all DII forwards in scoring, or Dom Sleva who has been an absolute beast thus far in the paint. I chose Legiste because he leads DII men’s basketball in a fun category: double doubles. When you can guarantee your team at least 10 points and 10 rebounds in 80% of your games played, you are as consistent as it gets. Legiste has missed a double double just twice this season, and that was in his first game. He then reeled off eight in a row.
Honorable mentions: Deshaun English II, Pittsburg State; Dom Sleva, Shippensburg; RJ Sunahara, Nova Southeastern; David Robinson Jr., Holy Family; Jaylen Wells, Sonoma State
Center — Tyshaun Crawford, Augusta
There may be a center or two that scores more points or has a few more blocks, but no one else is a top-3 center across the board statistically. His 21.3 points per game are second among centers and he does it with DII's second-best field goal percentage at 71.0%. He’s also second among centers in rebounds per game (9.4) and third among centers in blocks per game (2.2). He also visits the free-throw line, with the second most trips to the charity stripe among any position (118). Luckily for the Jaguars, he is a good shooter, with the most free throws made (80) among all centers.
Honorable mentions: Taylor Currie, Harding; Majur Majak, New Haven; Robert Tucker, Kutztown