Alston Jr., Rose, NPL receive all-conference honors

Through Temple Basketball’s most exciting (and stomach-churning) season in its short tenure with the American Athletic Conference, this team has lived and died by its big three.

On Monday and Tuesday, the AAC’s coaches recognized the importance of this, awarding Temple’s top three scorers all-conference honors.

Shizz Alston Jr. and Quinton Rose received slots on first-team and second-team, respectively, while sophomore Nate Pierre-Louis was named co-Most Improved Player, sharing the honor with UConn guard Josh Carlton.

Alston Jr. has made it known he considers this season a failure without a bid to go dancing, but was in line to also receive some individual recognition this season. His 19.7 PPG and 90.6% FT lead the conference and that efficiency has been Temple’s ticket to staying alive in bracketology. Alston Jr.’s offense has pushed the Owls to new heights, averaging 24.6 PPG over the last 5 crucial games, but his attributes go beyond getting buckets. His 5.1 APG ranks third in the AAC, with his 1.5 SPG ranking at eighth. Shizz’s impact is clear to those attentive to Temple’s rise, but some conference coaches may disagree. Alston Jr. did not join Jarron Cumberland, Corey Davis Jr., and Jeremiah Martin as the unanimous selections for first-team all-conference. This is a head-scratcher for fans of the senior, especially considering he was named to the 10-member USBWA All-District team on Tuesday. This was the first Temple player to be placed on the team since Khalif Wyatt in 2012-13. Regardless, Shizz will have the chance to prove a few AAC doubters wrong in the upcoming conference tournament.

Temple Basketball’s second leading scorer, Quinton Rose, has also been integral to the rush for March Madness (17.8 PPG over the last 5 games), but just like Alston Jr., not only does he provide scoring prowess, his defensive impact is oftentimes just as important. Rose’s 2.1 SPG rank third in the AAC. He’s on pace to be the first Owl to exceed 70 steals in a season since Mardy Collins in 2005-06. A junior, Rose’s second-team selection may motivate him to return for a senior season to become the de-facto leader in Temple’s locker room, perhaps claiming a first-team all-conference selection of his own.

Following Monday’s all-conference team selections, Nate Pierre-Louis, the third-leading scorer for the Owls, had something to say for his lack of recognition.

Yet amends were made for the snub on Tuesday, when it was announced that NPL would share AAC Most Improved Player with Connecticut sophomore Josh Carlton. Despite his 13.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 2.0 APG, Pierre-Louis is oftentimes the forgotten member of the big three, specifically because his lockdown defensive performances don’t always pop on a stat sheet. For example, in Temple’s vital 67-62 win over UCF, Pierre-Louis’s shutdown of BJ Taylor (36 min, 8 points, 1-8 FG) forced Central Florida to rely on top-heavy scoring which cost them the game. The sophomore guard serves as the engine for the Owls’ system. When he is boxing out on the perimeter, scoring efficiently, and running the offense, the team thrives. While being snubbed from first, second, and third team obviously stung Pierre-Louis, but going from one start in his Freshman season to conference recognition as a sophomore, NPL clearly has established building blocks to become the future face of Temple Basketball.

The next chance for these stars to showcase themselves comes on Friday, March 15th, when Temple will face the winner of Wichita State-Eastern Carolina at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.

Image: Irish Haines

Drew Bishop

Drew Bishop is a sophomore on-air personality and writer for WHIP Radio. He writes for Temple Volleyball and appears on The Main Event, Stadium Talk, and Temple Talks Philly.

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