After leading Leicester Riders to a fifth BBL Championship title, Geno Crandall has been recognised with the Molten BBL Player of the Year award for 2020-21, pacing a poll of BBL Head Coaches. It is the first time in seven seasons that a Leicester player has received the award, following Drew Sullivan in 2012-13 as the only two Riders to have ever won it in 33 BBL seasons.
With coaches nominating their top three players, and points awarded for each position, Crandall won the vote by 10 clear points ahead of DeAndre Liggins of London Lions in second place, as he was voted in first by seven of the ten BBL Head Coaches, and in one of the top three spots by all of them. It continues an amazing run for point guards as the fifth season in a row that a floor general has lifted this award, with Justin Robinson and Rahmon Fletcher doing so twice each.
The 6’4″, 24-year-old , Minneapolis-native joined Leicester in the summer after a season in the Czech Republic, and was previously a two-time All-Big Sky second team selection at the University of North Dakota before graduating from the powerhouse Gonzaga University. He made an instant impact, scoring 20 points in an early BBL Cup win over Newcastle Eagles, including nine in six fourth quarter minutes as Riders came from behind.
He finished the season ninth in the BBL in scoring with 15.9 points per game, second in the league in assists (7.8), and fourth in steals (1.9), leading the league champions in all three categories. The crafty guard also drew the second most fouls of any player in the BBL as he proved difficult to contain going to the rim – including numerous highlight dunks over the course of the campaign – and he shot 80% from the free-free throw line on more than five attempts per game, second overall as one of only two players with more than 100 free-throw makes on the season.
Crandall had nine double-doubles in BBL Championship play, which was third among all players, and was close to a triple-double on numerous occasions. He saved some of his best all-round performances for the biggest games, including a massive 18 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists in a road victory at the third-placed Plymouth Raiders; and 12 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds in a crucial March win over title rivals London Lions.
His season high for both points (29) and assists (15) came in a decisive contribution in a 116-109 overtime victory over Manchester Giants at the Morningside Arena, as he scored seven points in the extra five minutes. Another home highlight just prior to that saw him hit a buzzer-beater to see off B. Braun Sheffield Sharks by 75-73.
This final week of the season has already seen him elected to Molten BBL Team of the Year, and just miss out on a place in the Molten BBL Defensive Team of the Year by one vote. He also picked up a Molten BBL Player of the Month award in January, and made the weekly All-Star Five six times.