ST. LOUIS -- Junior Nate Buss of UNI and sophomore Fred VanVleet of Wichita State headline the list of selections for the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference specialty teams for men’s basketball. Buss, a native of Charles City, Iowa, has been tabbed the conference’s Team Captain for the All-Bench Team, while VanVleet, a native of Rockford, Ill., is the league’s Team Captain for the Most-Improved Team.
The teams, which were selected by the league's newspaper beat writers, are comprised of a minimum of five student-athletes (top five vote-getters, plus ties) on each squad.
Buss ranks third on the Panther team in scoring this year, averaging 10.7 points per game, and he is second for UNI in rebounding at 4.9 caroms per game. He is the first UNI player to average double-figure scoring as a primary bench player since Tony Brus averaged 15.4 in 1997-98. Buss narrowly edged Indiana State's Khristian Smith and Wichita State's Darius Carter in the voting for "team captain." The trio is joined on the squad by Jalen Pendleton of Southern Illinois and Devin Turk of Loyola on the All-Bench Team.
In his second year at Wichita State, VanVleet started every game, leading the Shockers to a unprecedented 31-0 record while earning the league's Larry Bird Player of the Year trophy. VanVleet has improved his statistics in every category, including scoring (4.3 ppg to 11.9 ppg), rebounding (1.8 rpg to 4.0 rpg), FG percentage (.386 to .485), 3FG percentage (.408 to .427), FT percentage (.725 to .835), steals (0.9 to 1.9), and assists (2.3 to 5.3). The sophomore ranks No. 3 nationally in assist:turnover ratio (4.0). He is joined on the Most-Improved Unit by Evansville's D.J. Balentine; Southern Illinois' Anthony Beane; UNI teammates Nate Buss and Matt Bohannon; Drake's Aaron Hawley; and Indiana State's Khristian Smith.
2014 MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE ALL-BENCH TEAM
*Nate Buss, UNI Jr. F 6-9 Charles City (Iowa) High
Darius Carter, Wichita State Jr. F 6-7 Akron (Ohio) Firestone High / Vincennes J.C.
Jalen Pendleton, Southern Illinois So. G 6-2 Evansville (Ind.) Bosse High
#Khristian Smith, Indiana State So. G/F 6-6 Indianapolis (Ind.) Pike High
Devon Turk, Loyola So. G 6-4 Houston (Texas) Westbury Christian
2014 MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE MOST-IMPROVED TEAM
*Fred VanVleet, Wichita State So. G 5-11 Rockford (Ill.) Auburn High
D.J. Balentine, Evansville So. G 6-2 Kokomo (Ind.) High
Anthony Beane, Southern Illinois So. G 6-2 Normal (Ill.) High
Matt Bohannon, UNI So. G 6-4 Marion (Iowa) Linn-Mar High
Nate Buss, UNI Jr. F 6-9 Charles City (Iowa) High
Aaron Hawley, Drake Sr. G/F 6-8 Rogers (Ark.) High
Khristian Smith, Indiana State So. G/F 6-6 Indianapolis (Ind.) Pike High
*--indicates team captain
#--named Tuesday as league's "Sixth Man of the Year" by all-conference voting panel