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Now Presenting the Award-Winning Bradley Braves.

With the Missouri Valley regular season wrapped up and the postseason upon us, the MVC awarded its year-end awards to the teams in the Valley. The Bradley Braves walked away with four players winning an award and six awards total for the Braves.

The first player to shine a light on is Malevy Leons. Malevy walked away with all-first-team MVC and Defensive Player of the Year, an award he won last season, making him the first back-to-back DPOY in Bradley history. This season, Malevy Leons is averaging 14.1 points per game, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists, all career highs for the Dutchman. What’s impressive is the 1.5 blocks and 1.6 steals he averages a game while still shooting. 49% from FG and 34% from three. Malevy’s presence of his elite defense, along with good offensive skills, is significant to a team. Also, shoutout to Mal for hitting his 1000 career points this season for the Braves!

The next player is Connor Hickman. Who won himself first-team scholar athlete and third-team all-MVC. This Season, Hickman is averaging 14.1 points per game on a 45.5% clip from FG, a rather impressive 39.5 from three-point range, and 3.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists. All of these are career highs, but only being on third team is so head-scratching because he missed four games with an ankle injury, which is likely holding him back from being higher. He put up career highs in every major category but was hurt by an ankle injury he couldn’t control. It’s head-scratching, but that’ll leave a chip on his shoulder coming into next season.

The kid from Iceland, Almar Atlason, walked away with MVC All-Freshman team. Atlason’s stat line looks rather lackluster compared to the others, with only 5.0 points per game, 1.7 rebounds, 0.8 assists, and 0.1 blocks, but his percentage in only 19.6 minutes a game is what we like to see. 41.5 percent from both FG and beyond the arc. Almar is as pure of a shooter as is, and with his development in defense from the beginning of the year, along with stepping in and cementing himself as the starting SF for the Braves, you couldn’t be happier from the Icelander.

Last up is 5’8 guard Duke Deen, who secured himself first-team all MVC. Similar to Hickman and Leons, Duke Deen had himself a career year getting 14.3 points per game, 3.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and a steal per game; he did all this while shooting 44% from FG, 38.5 from 3PT, and 80% from the line with FG and 3PT percentage being career highs by a significant margin. There is no other way to put it besides Duke was vital to our success as he was the voice of our team. Everything went through the man who’s half-blind in one of his eyes yet is able to shoot lights out as he also scored his 1000 career points this season while setting the all-time career record in made threes in a game with nine made against Missouri St. this year. With his and Hickman’s improvement this year, the Braves are set up to have the most lethal backcourt duo in all Mid-Major basketball.

What this team accomplished this season isn’t something to shrug off. These boys came out and worked and battled all year to get to this moment, and if you had told me at the beginning of the year that we’d be bringing home these awards, I would have never believed you. Let’s take this momentum and steamroll our way to March Madness. Go, Braves!


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