This year’s college basketball season is so full of “hype” over freshmen phenoms that it can be easy to overlook the senior leaders. You could argue that no senior has been more valuable than the 6-2 senior guard from Canisius College, Billy Baron. In the basketball-crazed region of Western New York, Baron has shone brighter than the rest.
For starters, the numbers Baron is putting up are staggering. He’s averaging 24.2 points per game, good for third in the NCAA. On two occasions this season, he’s scored 38 points, one point shy of the Koessler Athletic Center (Canisius’s home court) record of 39. Last game, he dropped 38 with six stitches. In the past six games, Baron has scored 38, 31, 21, 29, 26 and 38, an unmatched scoring output in that time span. But he’s not just a scorer; he also averages 4.9 assists per game and 4.9 rebounds per contest. Against Siena, he had his best all-around game of the season when scored 21 points, dished out 13 assists and grabbed five rebounds to lead the Golden Griffins to a double-digit win.
How does Baron do it? A lot has to do with his solid shooting percentage from the floor, but his performance at the free-throw line is equally impressive. He goes to the line around six times a game and is eighth in Division I in free-throw percentage at 91%. When you watch him play, it’s easy to see that he tries hard to slash his way to the rim and draw those fouls, but has a potent outside game as well. Baron’s excellence at knocking down those freebies is what gets him in the twenties and thirties for point totals.
The scoring, the passing, the leadership, it has all contributed to the great season the Griffins are having so far. They are 14-7 on the year, but their 8-2 record in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference is a true display of how good this team can be. They played a fairly challenging non-conference schedule and took their lumps, but now they are on a roll and in serious contention to win the MAAC and go to the NCAA Tournament. A lot of their success can be attributed to Billy Baron, the son of coach Jim Baron. The high basketball IQ the son gained learning from his father and growing up around the game is a major asset because it’s like the Griffs have a coach on the court as well as on the bench.
No one really knows how the rest of the season will go for Canisius and they definitely have a couple tough tests the rest of the way, but there’s a solid chance you’ll see them dancing in March. If they make the tournament, look out for one of the NCAA’s dark horse stars to shine as he hopes to take the Griffins deeper than they’ve been in around 50 years. Billy Baron is definitely deserving of some national attention and he’ll get it soon enough.