Jaylen Adams has compiled two of the finest seasons in Western New York college basketball history back-to-back.
The great news for St. Bonaventure: There is one encore performance to come.
Adams will be back for what will be a much-anticipated 2016-17 season. St. Bonaventure figures to contend for a top-four finish in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Adams ranks as the No. 1 college performer in Western New York and leads the season-ending, all-sports College Power 10.
1. St. Bona’s Jaylen Adams
The junior point guard from Baltimore ranked No. 7 in the nation in assists at 6.5 a game and No. 24 in the nation in scoring at 20.6 ppg. He was 20th in the country in steals (2.07), fourth in minutes played (37.3), 10th in free-throws attempted (8.36) and ninth in free-throws made (6.86).
All that production led Bona (20-12) to 20 wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1977-78. It was Bona’s third straight winning season in the A-10, a first for the program.
Adams threw his name into consideration for the NBA Draft. Pro scouts were at most of Bona’s games last season. But Adams was not rated in the top 100, according to most ranking services, and he announced he will return for a fourth year.
“Obviously, we are really excited to have Jay back for his senior season,” said St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt last month. “He is our floor leader and one of the best point guards in the country. It was beneficial for him to go through the evaluation process and I know he will be a better player for it.”
He has 1,377 career points, putting him within reach to become the sixth 2,000-point scorer in Bona history. Greg Sanders, Andrew Nicholson, Earl Belcher, Bob Lanier and Tom Stith are in that exclusive club.
2. Canisius women’s lacrosse
Canadian-born coach Scott Teeter has tapped into his roots across the border and the powerhouse high school programs of Rochester to build a dynasty at Canisius. The Golden Griffins have made six NCAA Tournaments in the last seven years, and they should be great again next season.
Erica Evans, from the lacrosse hotbed of Peterborough, Ont., will be back for her senior season. Evans ranked second in the nation in goals per game after scoring 76 in 20 games. She’s a second-team All-America. Canisius has won 24 straight regular-season games over three seasons in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and 31 of the last 32 league games overall.
3. Niagara CCC baseball
Coach Matt Clingersmith has built a powerhouse in Sanborn.
Clingersmith was an All-Western New York pitcher for Niagara Catholic in 2001 then went onto star for Erie CC and Canisius College. The Thunderwolves (47-10) reached the World Series final in Division III of the National Junior College Athletic Association. It was their fifth juco World Series appearance in 11 years under Clingersmith. Star pitcher Christian Young (Frontier) was drafted in the 21st round by the Cincinnati Reds.
4. Canisius hockey
Goalie Charles Williams came to Canisius as a graduate transfer from Ferris State in Michigan and had a dream season for the Griffs. He wound up helping two coaches get promotions. Williams led the nation in save percentage as Canisius, picked for ninth in the Atlantic Hockey Conference, won the regular-season title. Coach Dave Smith parlayed the big year into the head job at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, leaving Canisius after a good, 12-year run. Smith’s top aide, Trevor Large, who recruited Williams to Buffalo, got the promotion to replace Smith.
Large has a good roster. Nine of the Griffs’ top 12 scorers were freshman or sophomores. The Canisius home rink, HarborCenter, has been a boon to recruiting. If one of the young goalie prospects emerges in the wake of Williams’ departure, the Griffs could be golden.
5. UB men’s tennis
The Bulls went to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years under coach Lee Nickell, and this time was a surprise. UB had six newcomers. The Bulls lose only one senior from the roster.
6. UB women’s tennis
UB suffered a painful upset loss in the Mid-American Conference Tournament in 2016 but channeled its energy and won the title in 2017, making the NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history (the first was in 2008). Coach Kristen Maines’ team will return its top six singles players for next season.
7. UB men’s soccer
No college team in Western New York faced a more bittersweet school year.
UB (12-4-3) posted its most wins since 2005 and reached the Mid-American Conference title game under fourth-year coach Stu Riddle. Star senior Russell Cicerone scored 14 goals, finishing second in the nation in points per game and seventh in goals per game. He ended his career first in program history in assists (22) and second in goals (42).
Cicerone became the first UB player to be drafted by Major League Soccer when he was taken in the fourth round by the Portland Timbers. Riddle left in January for a better-paying, better-supported job with Northern Kentucky. Then UB eliminated the men’s program as part of its goal to trim $2 million in athletic department expenses.
8. Erie CC women’s soccer
The Kats reached the title game in Division III of the National Junior College Athletic Association. Erie went 17-3-1 under coach Gary Boughton. Freshman Abbey Lombard (Lancaster) finished second in the nation in goals with 36.
9. Buffalo State women’s soccer
The Bengals won their first-ever State University of New York Athletic Conference title and went to the NCAA Division III Tournament. Senior Melissa Smith (Niagara-Wheatfield), the SUNYAC offensive player of the year, scored in the 1-0 win over Geneseo for the championship. Coach Nicholas DeMarsh’s team (17-1-3) set a school record for wins.
10. Medaille men’s basketball
The Mavericks (21-7) went to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time since the tenure of former coach Mike MacDonald after winning the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference under third-year coach Mike Blaine. Senior guard Johnathan Belton (Amherst) led the nation in steals and finished his career with 1,104 points.
UB wrestlers Bryan Lantry, Jake Gunning and Kyle Akins, UB swimmer Mason Miller, UB men’s basketball, UB women’s basketball, Erie CC football, Alfred football, Daemen runner Mackenzie Donahue, UB cross-country runner Stephanie Ward, Canisius cross-country runner Siobhan Quinn, Daemen women’s volleyball, Daemen men’s basketball, Niagara CCC men’s basketball, Niagara CCC women’s basketball, Buffalo State swimmer Connor Mergler, Erie CC bowler Dan Streer, Villa Maria athletic director Don Silveri, Fredonia athletic director Greg Prechtl, St. Bona baseball, Jamestown CC women’s volleyball, baseball draftees Aaron Phillips (Bona), Cole Peterson (Bona), Logan Harasta (UB), Daniel Procopio (Niagara), Tanner Kirwer (Niagara) and Jake Lumley (Canisius).