The DII basketball January All-Stat Starting Five
We are nearing the halfway point of the DII basketball season. That means the stats are quickly building up.
Each month, we here at NCAA.com will take a look at the top student-athletes across the different statistics of DII basketball. Here's a position-by-position look at some of DII's standout players.
Tommy Bolte, Guard, Concord
Bolte is having a year to remember. After starting just 10 games and averaging 10.6 points per game last year, the junior guard has exploded on the scene. Bolte currently leads DII in scoring with 33.1 points per game, good for second best in all of college basketball.
The 6-foot-1 scoring machine came out of the gates red hot, scoring 40 and 43 points in his first two games of the season. He missed a few mid-November games with an ankle injury, but returned with a vengence, scoring 30 and 46 in his first two games back. Bolte is also fifth in the Mountain East Conference with a 54.5 shooting percentage and second in assists with 6.2 per game. That's right, the leading scorer in the division can also dish it out with the best of them.
The MEC is a stacked with No. 4 West Liberty, No. 19 Wheeling Jesuit and last year's runner-up Fairmont State right ahead of Concord. Bolte will have to keep up his scoring barrage if he wants to get the Mountain Lions into the postseason.
Juvaris Hayes, Guard, Merrimack
Merrimack is off to its best conference start in 27 years, sitting in first place in the Northeast 10. That's in large part thanks to Juvaris Hayes.
Hayes is good at basketball. That's not an understatement, as Hayes delivers in every aspect of the game. His 8.3 assists leads all of DII basketball. He's also dropping in a team-best 18.3 points per game. Oh, he also leads the team in rebounds, ripping down 6.4 per game. He does it all as the shortest guy on the team, standing just 6-foot. And just for good measure, he's tied with Nova Southeastern's David Dennis for the DII lead in steals at 4.0 per game.
The sophomore sensation set the single-season program record in assists last year en route to NE10 Rookie of the Year honors. He's on pace to break that and add some more accolades to his trophy case. Hayes already has four double-doubles on the season, and tallied a triple-double on January 3 -- the second of his career -- going for 21, 11 and 10 in the 900th win in Merrimack history. He has Merrimack rolling, and it looks like he's just getting started.
Haywood Highsmith, Forward, Wheeling Jesuit
What's that old adage? The only three certainties in life are death, taxes and Highsmith getting a double-double?
The Cardinals' 6-foot-7 is an absolute beast on the boards, leading DII in rebounds with 13.0 a night. He's played in 12 games this season. He's recorded a double-double in each one of them.
Big congrats to Sr. Haywood Highsmith on recording his 1500th point and 1000th rebound in tonight’s game! Haywood has gotten a double double in all 11 games this season! #wjubasketball pic.twitter.com/lncv9i9mPc— WJU Basketball (@WJU_Basketball) December 20, 2017
This is nothing new for Highsmith, he averaged 15.3 points and 10.8 rebounds per game last year as a junior and will go out with a bang on his senior tour. He's leading the Cardinals this year with 22.2 points (good for 23rd in DII) and 13.0 rebounds per game. He is very efficient from the field, hitting 56.4 percent of time, and can even sling it from 3-point land, hitting 16 of 38 attempts, a 42.1 percent rate.
Wheeling Jesuit and West Liberty have a big showdown on January 20. Highsmith missed his last game, but the Cardinals need him ready to go in a game that has huge MEX implications.
Sam Daniel, Forward, Florida Tech
Daniel scores a lot of points. In fact, he's the top scoring forward in DII.
Florida Tech has been streaky all season. The Panthers started off the season losing four in a row before going on a three-game win streak, fighting back to a 7-8 record. What hasn't been streaky is Daniel's production.
Daniel is third in DII, scoring a career and Sunshine State Conference-best 26.3 points per game. He takes a lot of shots, but hits a respectable 47.1 percent from the field, while drilling 65 of 157 3s on the year, fourth-most in DII.
Daniel isn't alone, as Jordan Majors chips in 20.7 points per night. Together they are responsible for 55 percent of Florida Tech's 85.7 points per game. Though they only have seven wins, the last one was a big one, upsetting No. 7 Barry.
Malik Toppin, Center, Salem (WV)
Toppin's Tigers aren't having a year to remember, but the senior big man sure is. Toppin is currently amongst DII's best in quite a few categories.
He is currently leading the Tigers with 22.0 points per game, which has him ranked 22nd in DII, and tops amongst listed centers. He's scoring at a 68.9 percent field goal rate, eighth-best in DII and second to only Lake Superior State's Michael Nicholson (71 percent) amongst centers. His 10.4 rebounds per game are tied for 18th in DII, and second to Lane's Kadarius Ash (11.6) amongst all centers. His 2.29 blocks per game have him ranked amongst the top five of all DII center's as well. His eight double-doubles? You guessed correctly if you had him ranked in the top ten overall.
The Tigers sit at 4-10, mired in a five-game losing streak. While that won't help Toppin garner much national attention, his numbers can't be denied.
Honorable mention: Chandler Vaudrin, Guard, Walsh
Vaudrin has played in 12 games this season. In 25 percent of those games, he's recorded a triple-double.
The sophomore is leading DII in the category with three on the year and is averaging 14.5 points per game while leading the team in rebounding (9.3 per game) and assists (7.3 per game). His latest triple-double came on January 6, when he scored 11 points to go along with 11 rebounds and 12 assists in a 15 point victory over Trevecca Nazarene.
* All leaders as of January 7, 2017 according to NCAA.org Stats.