That the player leading the MAAC in assists per game comes from Siena is no surprise.
The surprise, though, is which Siena men’s basketball player currently owns that distinction.
While junior guard Jalen Pickett led the MAAC in assists per game during each of his first two college seasons, it’s senior Manny Camper — Siena’s 4 in most lineups it plays — that leads the conference in assists per game this season at 5.3.
The 6-foot-7 Maryland native also leads the MAAC in rebounds per game at 9.8.
Camper’s game has grown in each season at Siena, and this season has been no exception. While he’s been a capable ball-handler in the past, Camper’s improved handle has Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello comfortable calling upon the 6-foot-7 senior to initiate offense from the perimeter.
“I think just being able to kind of play free and to not worry about anything, I think that’s helped,” Maciariello said after Sunday’s win at Fairfield, a game in which Pickett did not play because of a hamstring injury.
The depth of quality players around Camper, named Monday as the MAAC Player of the Week, also helps the senior who averaged 13.7 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game last season when he was named an All-MAAC first-team selection.
“Teams now have to guard Nick Hopkins and Jordan King and Jalen Pickett and Aidan Carpenter on the perimeter, and they also have to guard Kyle Young, and Jackson Stormo and Harrison Curry in the post,” Maciariello said.
And that leaves Camper — “a great slasher and a driver,” Maciariello said — with ample room to operate this season off the dribble. Especially in MAAC play, it’s common for opposing teams to struggle to find a suitable defender for Camper, whose combination of quickness, size and strength makes him a unique talent.
So far this season, Camper is averaging 13 points and 1.5 steals in addition to the rebounds and assists he’s produced — and, per sports-reference.com, no other player is averaging the combination of 10 points, eight rebounds, five assists and one steal per game this season in the country through Sunday’s action.
CARPENTER TAKES AWARD, TOO
While Camper earned the conference’s top honor Monday, Siena freshman Aidan Carpenter was named the MAAC Rookie of the Week after scoring a game-high 19 points in Siena’s win Sunday.
Carpenter started in place of Pickett, the reigning MAAC Player of the Year, in that victory.
“Aidan was great,” Camper said. “We knew going into the game, he was more than prepared.”
After missing Siena’s first two games because of injury, Carpenter averaged 13.5 points per game on 58.8% shooting during the Saints’ weekend sweep of the Stags.
Five Saints are averaging double-digit scoring so far this season, while two more Siena players are just off that pace.
Pickett’s 17.7 points per game leads the Saints, while Camper, Carpenter, King and Jackson Stormo are each averaging more than 10. Meanwhile, sophomore Kyle Young is averaging 9.8 points per game and Hopkins is at nine.
As a team, 4-0 Siena’s 75.8 points per game ranks second in the MAAC behind Monmouth, but the Saints possess the league’s most-efficient offense, according to kenpom.com.