CLEVELAND -- The “Big Dog” is now the Top Dog in the Mid-American Conference.
Just two days after being named a first-team all-conference selection, University of Akron senior center Isaiah “Big Dog” Johnson was named the 2017 MAC Player of the Year, the league announced Wednesday.
“It’s an honor for Big Dog to win this award with the amount of talent in this league, like Jaaron Simmons, Blake Hamilton, Jimmy Hall, Marcus Keene and Thomas Wilder, just to name a few,” Akron head coach Keith Dambrot said in a release announcing the award.
“It’s a tribute to how much he means to this team. Isaiah has worked hard to get to this point of his career, and has done whatever it takes to make the team better throughout the years.”
During his final year with the program, Johnson helped lead the Zips to a 24-7 record, including a 14-4 mark in conference play, which was good enough to claim the conference’s regular-season championship and No. 1 seed in this week’s MAC Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
Over 29.5 minutes of action in 31 starts for the Zips, Johnson averaged 16.2 points, 2.9 assists and 7.4 rebounds, including nearly three per game on the offensive end of the floor, all of which were team-highs this season.
Additionally, he had a 1.3 assists-to-turnovers ratio and a shooting percentage of .630, converting better than six field goals a game. The .630 field goal percentage ranked No. 1 in the MAC and ninth nationally.
Johnson registered six double-doubles of points and rebounds during the regular season and scored in double figures in 28 of Akron’s 31 games, including 13 of the last 14 outings. Johnson scored a career-high 33 points at Central Michigan earlier in the year, becoming the 42nd player in school history to score at least 1,000 points.
Johnson scored 20 or more points six times during the regular season.
Despite a run of 12 straight 21-win seasons, the Zips have had just one other player in their program’s history win MAC Player of the Year honors, Romeo Travis in 2007. In addition to the MAC Player of the Year Award, Johnson has earned first-time All-MAC honors in back-to-back seasons, as well as the league’s Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2016.
Akron opens up MAC Tournament play in Cleveland on Thursday afternoon. One of four teams to get a bye into the quarterfinals, the top-seeded Zips will face off against the Eastern Michigan Eagles with a semifinal berth on the line.