As we approach the end of the regular season in The Summit League, we will be voting on postseason awards over the next few days (yes, the same people that picked the Omaha men to finish eighth). I always find the process difficult because there are so many ebbs and flows to a college basketball season. Some players start fast and finish slow, some miss time with injuries, while others have a hot month at the end of the season. Trying to factor all that in can be a challenge sometimes.
When it comes to picking The Summit League Player of the Year, Mike Daum in all likelihood will win it for the third time and is deserving of it. I mean, come on. The guy is one of the top ten scorers in the history of college basketball and averages a double-double (25.6 PPG, 11.7 RPG). Think about that! He has scored over 3,000 career points and is one of ten finalists nationally for the Senior Class Award, handed out at the Final Four in April. He has one of the most unique skills sets you’ll find. A gifted shooter, can handle the ball, rebounds, great hands, soft touch, etc.
That all being said, I feel like someone should at least make the case for Purdue-Fort Wayne senior John Konchar. He has quietly had one of the most remarkable careers in college basketball history. In the Mastodons loss to North Dakota on Thursday, Konchar eclipsed the 2,000 point mark for his career, becoming the first (and only) player in NCAA Division I history to score 2,000 career points (2,034), pull down 1,000 career rebounds (1,133), dish out 500 career assists (540) and record 200 career steals (267). This is a kid that was lightly recruited out of West Chicago High School, weighing only 165 pounds. He had a game his senior season when he scored 49 points and grabbed 27 rebounds. Amazingly, he wasn’t on the radar of any Division I programs. Notre Dame Assistant, Rod Balanis, watched him play a couple times and knew he had a chance to be a great player, but with the current state of the Irish program, couldn’t take a flyer on him at the time. Instead, he referred him to friend, Jon Coffman, in Fort Wayne. Konchar proceeded to add 40 pounds of bulk his redshirt year, and as a freshman, was an impact player immediately. He will be a First-Team All-Summit League player for the fourth straight season.
What stands out most about Konchar is that he plays so unselfishly. Until this season, he was never the number one scoring option on his own team. He has taken 1,340 shots making 749 of them for 56% in his career. Now compare to Daum, who has taken 1,963 shots (623 more than Konchar), making 989 for 50% in his career. It is important to factor in three-point attempts because certainly that will bring the FG percentage down. Daum has over 200 more attempts from outside the arch.
But don’t overlook all the other things Konchar does on the floor. Described by some close to the program as generally quiet, humble and even a little goofy, the do-it-all senior averages 5.4 assists per game, most in the Summit League. He is also first in steals, second in scoring, second in free throw attempts, third in minutes played, third in rebounding, and fifth in field goal percentage. And oh yeah, his 70 blocks are ninth most in program history.
He is incredibly athletic. Watch him jump, hang, cut and change direction. At times, he makes the game look effortless, almost like he is playing in slow motion.
Purdue-Fort Wayne is an outlier in The Summit League geographically. We do not see the Dons play as often as other teams up and down the I-29 corridor, which is unfortunate.
My partner on basketball telecasts, Greg Stemen, said flat out that Konchar is one of the best ever players in Summit League history, as we watched him drop in 38 points and hit a game-winning three-pointer in overtime against North Dakota State.
I also believe he will be an NBA Draft pick in June. You don’t come across many 6’5”, 210 pound guards that can defend, shoot, rebound and distribute like this guy can. Purdue-Fort Wayne Head Coach, Jon Coffman, said he has received inquiries from 17 NBA teams on Konchar so far in a recent article published in the Indianapolis Star. Enjoy the final weeks of Daum and Konchar, two special Summit League talents.