Harrison Blackledge has been a driving force for the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association champion and nationally ranked Hope College men’s basketball team all season.
The senior forward from Canton, Ohio (Hoover) has been rewarded for a stellar performance on the court. He headlines the 2016-17 All-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Men’s Basketball First Team as the Most Valuable Player.
It marks the 29th time a Flying Dutchmen player has been chosen MIAA MVP and the first since guard David Krombeen in 2012.
Blackledge has been Hope’s engine all season, head coach Greg Mitchell said.
“His versatility as a post player who can do great damage on the perimeter as well has made him quite a force,” Mitchell said. “He is well-deserving of the league MVP award and a key component to our regular-season championship.
Blackledge is joined by five other first-selections: teammates Chad Carlson of Rockford, Michigan (Rockford) and Dante Hawkins of Holland, Michigan (Holland), Trine’s Will Dixon, Olivet’s Eric Ewing and Alma’s Trevor Gernaat.
Blackledge helped the Flying Dutchmen finish the regular season with a 20-5 overall record, including a first-place MIAA record of 13-1. Hope is the top seed for this week’s MIAA Tournament.
In MIAA play, Blackledge placed third in scoring at 18.1 points per league game on 51.3 percent shooting from the field. He also averaged 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per MIAA contest.
Carlson, a senior, topped the MIAA at 3.6 3-pointers per league game on a 46.3 percent clip. He sank a school-record 10 en route to a career-high 30 points in a victory at Olivet.
“What an incredible season Chad has experienced,” Mitchell said. “Prior to this season, he had been a very consistent, reliable player who was hard to take off the floor because he controlled the tempo and took great care of the ball. This year, his confidence and success shooting the basketball have been a true difference-maker for our team.”
Hawkins, a junior, ranked fifth in the MIAA at 16.6 points per game league game. He also was fifth at 3.6 assists per MIAA contest.
“As an upperclassman, Dante has really developed into a complete player by expanding his shooting range to go along with his incredible speed and quickness,” Hawkins said. “Most important, he has evolved as a very tough and gritty defender which has really impacted our ability to pressure and contain opponents' guards.”
Senior forward Cody Stuive of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville) is among six All-MIAA Second Team selections. He joins Calvin’s Cam Denny, Trine’s Kyle Dodson, Alma’s Tyler Edwards, Adrian’s Justin Webster and Albion’s Corey Wheeler.
“Cody has worked so hard throughout his career at Hope,” Mitchell said. “His attitude and work ethic has never waned and he developed into a phenomenal leader this season. He can do it all and has been a key player for us at both ends of the floor, both in the paint and on the perimeter.
“I'm very proud of Cody's all-conference recognition as well as his role as perhaps the best 'teammate' we have on the roster!”