The MVP Debate

By: Aaron Williams

It’s that time again. Sorry I’m late.

Let’s talk MVPs. We’ve got a few names in the hat right now and it looks like Drew League staff and Commish have a tough job ahead of us. Any of these guys could could rightfully claim it, and any of them would rightfully feel snubbed if they didn’t. There have been arguments (ahem, heated debates) and there have been highlights. Maybe someone will feel like they were left off this list and I’ll be ducking heated point guards and power forwards for the next 3 weeks. There can only be one, after all. Here are our picks:

Kerry Carter – Redemption
It’s a twist of irony that so many of these guys are guards who train with coach Keion Kindred; he’s worked with a few Drew League MVPs. Not only that, but two of them share a team: Kindred’s own Redemption squad, returning under a new moniker, but with the
same mentality of hard work and infinite hustle. Kerry Carter has been described, both by Keion and in his own words, as Jonathan Gibson, Jr. It’s apt. Gibson and Carter have shared and alternated top scorer duties on a team that went undefeated for the first 7 weeks of the 2016 season. While there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that it’s Gibson’s team,
when other obligations sent him to Vegas hunting (and earning) a contract, Carter stepped up and became the teams focal point. An MVP this year will match him with Gibson, who won in 2013 – but he’s got a long way to go to catch up to “big brother”. Gibson earned Player of the Week in week 2 with 31 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in a win over C.A.B.C. The scary part is he just might
do it.

Pat Rembert – LA Loop
Another of Keion’s guys is one of only 3 players this season to have earned Top Performer honors in two separate weeks, and is leading the league in scoring by a mile with Kindred’s L.A. Loop. When I asked Pat Rembert, affectionately known as “Rambo” and “P-Stacks” for his physique about what winning the MVP would mean to him, he told me, “it means that I’m recognized by my peers as one of the top players in L.A.” Both he and Keion are reluctant to grab that title for P.R.; they both told me that it was more important to win.

Van Girard – BB4L
This is a sentiment shared by Van Girard, of Baron Davis’ Basketball 4 Life squad. He won a Top Performer award in Week 3, and became his team’s unlikely leader in both points and spirit while their headlining star Casper Ware Jr. was away. Upon Casper’s return, Van still represented the kind of impact a player can have when hustle beats talent, still scoring at a consistent pace, and stuffing the stat sheet in other categories as Ware deservedly took more shots for himself. His inclusion on this list is controversial; there were some who told us that there was no way Girard could win MVP without leading his team in scoring. However, the sheer number of voices proclaiming him deserving may just drown out the naysayers come voting time.

Justin Johnson- Sky Ryse
Justin Johnson doesn’t have that problem. Johnson is making a name for himself by scoring at a blazing clip for Sky Ryse. His ability to shoot from anywhere on the floor and get to the basket basically at will led to a 40 point outing in Week 6. “It would be amazing (to win MVP). This is my fourth year playing in the Drew League, so just to be recognized would be a great honor.” His name is already making the rounds of the gym, so mission accomplished, but the award would make a nice cap to a great season for the young guard.

Frank Session – Birdie’s Revenge
By contrast, veteran guard Franklin “Nitty” Session is well known around these parts, having played with the Bulldogs, Houdini’s All-Stars, and currently, The Game’s Birdie’s Revenge for some time. He too is an at-will scorer, dribbling and weaving through multiple
defenders with an unorthodox, street-oriented style of play that dazzles the Drew League crowd. He is practically impossible to guard, turning in a Top Performer-winning game in Week 3 with 18 points and torching defenders for a whole highlight reel unto himself. He’s leading Birdie’s Revenge and is the engine to their whole offense, driving them to a surprising 8-2 record in their first season back at the Drew, good for 2nd seed in the
ridiculously competitive John Williams Division.

Other Notables
There are so much others worth mentioning, who are right there, but maybe have yet to show that breakout performance. There’s still a week left, and things are heated all around, so a superstar showing from a Vic Rudd, Malcolm Thomas, Jerome Jordan, Garrett Nevels, or Shannin Sharpe could easily put them in the forefront of voters’ minds. It’s a much more crowded field than when I wrote this article last year (there were only 4 clear
frontrunners to this year’s six) – if one of these guys wants to separate himself from the crowd, now’s the time. This season went by in a blur, and everybody has stepped their game up, but there’s “No Excuse”.

…You know how it goes.

Aaron Paul Williams is a freelance writer and has written for DrewLeague.com and Clipperblog. He is also the creator of Compton Beach, a lifestyle brand and media company that seeks to change the way the world views South Los Angeles and benefit the communities he and so many others reside in, work in, and love. Catch him on Twitter: @aaronsmarter.

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