For the second season in a row, Geno Crandall has been awarded the
Molten BBL Player of the Year, as voted by BBL Head Coaches, after leading
Leicester Riders to a double that saw them defend the BBL Championship by a
record margin and lift the BBL Cup for the first time since 2014. He’ll be
looking to make it a treble as he now prepares for the BBL Play-off Final
against London Lions at The O2 Arena on Sunday, in front of a record crowd of
over 16,500 and live on Sky Sports.
It is only the fourth time in BBL history that a player has won
the award back-to-back, although three of those have happened in succession
with Rahmon Fletcher in 2016 and 2017 followed by Justin Robinson in 2018 and
2019, joining the legendary Alton Byrd in 1991 and 1992. No player has ever won
the award three times, with Crandall now joining the aforementioned as well as
Andrew Sullivan, Tony Dorsey and Trey Moore as players who have won it twice.
With BBL Head Coaches nominating their top three players, and
points awarded for each position, Crandall won the vote by five clear points
ahead of teammate Patrick Whelan and Isaiah Reese of the London Lions, and was
voted first by five of the nine eligible coaches. It continues an amazing run
for point guards, as the sixth season in a row that the award has been won by a
player in that position.
The 6’4″, 25-year-old, Minneapolis native joined Leicester in
the summer of 2020 prior to the behind-closed-doors season, after a campaign in
the Czech Republic and having previously been a two-time All-Big Sky second
team selection at the University of North Dakota before graduating from
powerhouse Gonzaga University.
As a key reacquisition for Coach Rob Paternostro, he returned this
season to play in front of the returning fans at Morningside Arena, and he got
back to work immediately as he averaged 17 points, eight assists and five
rebounds through Leicester’s early-season BBL Cup campaign, that culminated with
him taking over the Cup Final in front of a record crowd of over 10,000 at
Utilita Arena, Birmingham, to take the MVP award with 26 points and bring the
Cup back to Leicester for the first time in eight years.
Amidst that, in defence of their BBL Championship crown, Crandall
had three twenty-point games in the first six and posted a triple-double of 13
points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists against Cheshire Phoenix as Riders won their
first 12 contests and never looked like relinquishing their title. He had a
season-high 25 points in just 28 minutes in an April league win over Plymouth
City Patriots, and a high of 16 assists in the BBL Cup semi-final victory over
London Lions in December.
Overall in league play, Crandall averaged 13 points, seven assists,
five rebounds and two steals per game, improving his three-point percentage to
a professional career-high of 40% and adding another threat to his already
formidable arsenal. He ranked fourth in the league in assists and seventh in
steals, also drawing the sixth most fouls of any player as he proved
consistently hard to contain.
Riders finished off the league campaign with nine straight wins,
and have since won all four of their Play-off games, with Crandall
significantly upping his scoring output in the post-season to 22 points per
game on an eye-watering 48% three-point shooting. Most notably so far, he
posted 32 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and five steals in Leicester’s
Play-off semi-final win at the Emirates Arena over Glen Luss Glasgow Rocks.
Crandall adds this award to his Molten BBL Team of the Year
appearance earlier in the week, and was also the player who most frequently
featured in the weekly BBL All-Star 5 with nine appearances, one ahead of Tyrik
Armstrong of Manchester Giants and Glasgow’s Jordan Johnson.
He now prepares for arguably the biggest game of his Leicester
career so far, as Riders travel to The O2 Arena in London for the BBL Play-off
Final, live on Sky Sports Arena and YouTube and tipping-off at 16:15.