Congrats to Northwest Florida State College Sophomore G/F Chris Duarte on being named NJCAA Men's DI Basketball Player of the Year. Take nothing away from Chris, he is a fantastic player and had a great season and great career at NWFS. Duarte is Oregon bound to play for former Moberly Greyhound Head Coach Dana Altman and here's to the Ducks for another great season next year. But as an avid fan and follower of Junior College basketball for multiple decades, and a knowledgeable one at that, I feel a grave injustice was done. In my honest opinion and humble opinion, a young man named Alonzo Verge, Jr. from Hillside, IL (Chicago) was by far more deserving. Probably the easiest decision you had POYT selection committee, and you got it wrong!!! Zo, lead his Moberly Greyhounds team to the National Tournament Sweet Sixteen. Not disrespecting Duarte's season, or accomplishments, but Verge was simply the better "player." All season long!! Simply the BEST!! Not even close!! Verge, had a better 2019 season, a better Juco career, and out "stat-ed" Duarte in every category this year except FG%, Rebounds and blocked shots. BTW, Duarte is 6'6" (3 in. taller than Verge) and although listed as a guard, he was more involved around the basket in the NWFSC system than Zo was at Moberly, especially on the defensive end. Below is the press release recognizing Duarte as the 2019 NJCAA Spalding Men's DI Basketball Player of the Year. Please note I have edited it to include the numbers posted by Moberly Greyhound Alonzo Verge for comparison purposes. After looking at the numbers, picture both players playing in the national tournament with each team going 1 and 1. Verge and the #14 seeded Hounds beat #19 NEO in the first round before losing to eventual champ Vincennes by 7 in the sweet sixteen. NWFSC received a top 8 seed and first round bye, beat a questionably higher seeded Cape Fear (NC) by 20, before bowing out to eventual runner-up Ranger College (TX) by 3 in the quarterfinals (elite eight). Each player's impact on the success of their respective teams was very similar. But unless the criteria for this award is much more than just rewarding the "Player of the Year," then they need to change the name to whatever criteria was used to rob Verge of this honor. But if you are realistically trying to honor the "PLAYER OF THE YEAR," the student/athlete who had the best season of all student/athletes, the person who "played" the best or had the best season, then you, NJCAA, GOT IT WRONG!!!!! Here is the NJCAA official release: Charlotte, NC – Bound for the University of Oregon after a stellar two-year career at Northwest Florida State, sophomore Chris Duarte has been named the 2019 Spalding® NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball Player of the Year. Leading the Raiders to its fifth consecutive FCSAA Panhandle Conference championship, Duarte powered Northwest Florida State to 28-5 record on the year. In a season where the sophomore guard eclipsed the career 1000-point threshold, Duarte guided the Raiders to the quarterfinal round of the NJCAA DI Men's Basketball Championship for the second consecutive year. Throughout the 2018-19 campaign, Duarte posted 10 double-doubles and was held to single-digits in the scoring column on just two occasions. Duarte: Verge: Guard - Guard Height: 6-6 - 6-3 Soph Soph Puerto Plata, DR - Hillside, IL 2018-19 Statistics 33 games (33 starts) - 35 games (33 starts) 19.0 PPG - 30.9 PPG 54.1 FG% - 48.8 40.0 3PT% - 41.8 80.8 FT% - 75.9 7.1 RPG - 4.2 1.2 SPG - 2.4 2.5 APG - 8.2 1.1 ATO - 2.1 Career Statistics 65 games (34 starts) - 60 games (46 starts) 18.5 PPG - 26.7 PPG 54.3 FG% - 51% 6.9 RPG - 4.2 1.6 SPG - 2.2 1.6 APG - 7.3 2018-19 Accomplishments Duarte: First Team All-American VERGE: 1st Team All-American (2nd Team 2018) Duarte: Men's Basketball Player of the Week (11/12) VERGE: Player of the Week TWICE (12/16 & 2/3) Duarte: FCSAA Pandhandle Conference Player of the Year (Coaches choice) VERGE: Region 16 Player of the Year, MCCAC Player of the Year (coaches choices) Duarte: FCSAA Pandhandle Conference Player of the Year (Media choice) Media award not offered in MCCAC One final thought: Verge was not only the leading scorer in nation, averaging 30.9 PPG (doing so on only 22 FG attempts per game) he was 2nd in total assists (286), 3rd in Assists per game with (8.2), and 7th in total steals (84). With that type of output, in no way is it possible to label Zo as a one dimensional player. In fact, just the opposite. He was the facilitator, dribble penetrator, could finish at the basket, find the open player with even just the smallest of openings with which to distribute, the best at getting to the FT line, became a complete player in 2019 by increasing his 3FG% from 32 on 75 attempts in his freshman year, to 42 on 235 attempts this year, AND surviving two years with a tough, demanding, no-nonsense coach in Patrick Smith. In addition, Verge never failed to reach double figure scoring in 2018-19, scored 30 points or more 18 times, 40 or more 6 times, with a high of 55, breaking his own single game record of 51 set last season. Alonzo now has 7 of the top 9 single game high point totals in Greyhound history (41, 42, 42, 45, 47, 51 and 55), including 4 of the top 5. He also owns the Greyhounds record for most points in one season 1062 (2018-19), which is more than Duarte scored in his two year Juco career (1039). Verge, as Duarte, also posted 10 double-doubles in 2018-19. Alonzo also owns the Moberly records for most points in career (1603); is 2nd in career assists (438); 1st in single season total assists (286), 1st in single season assists average (8.2), 1st in career assist average (7.3), and T-1 in single game assists (16); best single season scoring average (30.9) and best career scoring average (26.7); most FG attempts in season (767) and makes (374); most FT's attempts season (323) and makes (245), and finally, most points in 2 consecutive games (85) and most points in 3 consecutive games (128). I know Duarte was the pre-season favorite to be the national player of the year, and I would hope that had nothing to do with the committee's final decision. I was told by some people associated with the tournament and the NJCAA they don't remember having the leading scorer actually playing in the tournament. A tribute to the player, but also to the team. Quite an accomplishment whether a first or not. So, sorry Chris Duarte, as good as you were, you didn't measure up to the year or the numbers put up by Alonzo Verge in 2018-19. When comparing the overall numbers for these two players, one (including ME) has to doubt that you were truly looking at the right things for player of the year designation, or your decision would've produced a totally different result. Despite the NJCAA shun for POTY, congratulations to Alonzo for an outstanding season and career at Moberly Area CC. I wish you the best of the best at the next level and beyond. You and your teammates were fun to watch and provided some great memories for Greyhounds fans. Congratulations also to the Greyhounds team for an exciting season. Especially recovering from a sluggish start (7-5), picking yourself up off the floor, and putting it all together to finish at 28-7 (winning 13 in a row and 17 of the last 18 regular season games) and making the sweet sixteen. Leading Vincennes 63-59 with just over 6 minutes left may have been the last time they trailed in the tournament. Not much consolation I know, but with a couple of breaks here or there, you proved you could compete against the best, and it could've been you playing in that title game Saturday instead of them. Best wishes to the Sophomores as they take their talents to the next level, and to the freshman returning next season to continue the momentum and tradition of Greyhound Basketball. And finally, congratulations to Moberly Greyhounds Head Coach Pat Smith on his induction into the NJCAA Men's Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Smith becomes the ninth member of the Greyhound family to enter the HOF, joining Maurice John (1984), Lowell "Cotton" Fitzsimmons and Jim Carey (1985), Harrison Stepter (1990), Charlie Spoonhour (1991), Mitch Richmond (1994), Gerald Wilkins (1995), and McCoy McLemore (2011).