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2017 Men’s D-III College Player Of The Year, Presented By Spin Ultimate & NUTC

And the award goes to...

Ultiworld’s 2017 Men’s College Awards are presented by Spin Ultimate and the National Ultimate Training Camp. All opinions are those of the authors. Thanks for supporting the brands that make Ultiworld possible!

Ultiworld is pleased to announced our fourth annual College Awards. The criteria for each award can be found here — we consider both regular season and postseason performance in our selection of awards. Though the input of Ultiworld reporters is weighed heavily, final decisions for awards are made by the editors.

2017 Men’s D-III College Player Of The Year

Henry Babcock (Richmond)

Richmond’s Henry Babcock. Photo: Jolie J Lang — UltiPhotos.com

In a world filled with analytics and advanced statistics that have made sports increasingly complex, sometimes the answer to all of our questions is simple: the team with the best player on the field has the best chance of winning the game. The University of Richmond rode this formula to a national championship.

Their star player and the winner of the inaugural Donovan Award, Henry Babcock was almost always the best player on the field this season, and he is Ultiworld’s 2017 Men’s D-III College Player of the Year.

While Babcock’s season certainly reached a crescendo at Nationals, his claim as the best player in the division started back in the beginning of February when he led Richmond to a successful showing at Queen City Tune Up. Richmond finished second in their pool, with Babcock guiding the Spidermonkeys’ smooth offense to hold after hold against the strong defenses of highly ranked D-I opposition. Their most talked about achievement coming out of the weekend was a 10-9 victory over last season’s D-I national runners-up Harvard, but perhaps their most impressive performance in retrospect was a 13-9 loss to eventual D-I national runners-up UNC Wilmington. Babcock’s composure and throwing ability kept Richmond in every game they played that weekend.

Fast forward to the Series, and a change in strategy really allowed Babcock’s versatility to shine through. Richmond moved Babcock to the D-line, where he played almost exclusively for the remainder of the season. While partially a testament to the coaching staff’s belief in the rest of the O-line to get the job done, this move was more about enabling the team’s best defender to play on that side of the disc. The move proved to be a success, with Richmond finishing 14-1 in the Series and breaking to win the national championship.

Despite playing almost entirely on defense, Babcock’s statistical production at the D-III College Championships suffered very little, if at all. Babcock led the tournament with 25 assists, in addition to six goals. He led his team with seven blocks on the weekend, most of them coming against their opponent’s best player. Proving that he wasn’t just racking up the numbers against easy opposition, Babcock saved his most impressive performance for the final, posting six assists, two goals, and a block against regional rival Davidson. In the biggest game of the season, Babcock showed the entire country what those who had faced him all season already knew: he was the best player in the division in 2017.

Runners-up: Alan Villanueva (Air Force), Dom Schuster (Franciscan)

  1. Michael Ball
    Michael Ball

    Michael Ball is the Men's DIII College Editor for Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (mball2293@gmail.com) or on Twitter @mike_ball423

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