There were a lot of question marks in the American Midwest Conference (AMC) headed into the 2019-2020 season. The AMC entered the season with four new coaching staffs, and just one player from the 1st two All-AMC teams returning.
With all of the turnover happening, one of the biggest question marks entering the season was; Who would be the favorite to win the AMC? The coaches preseason poll leaned toward a familiar face, and picked Park (MO) with veteran head coach Jason Kline, to win the league. They were followed up by the 2018-19 AMC Tournament Champions, Central Baptist. Here is a full look at the preseason coaches poll:
Nationally, the AMC didn’t get a lot of love in the preseason rankings. Park, being picked to win the league, started the season off as the #24th ranked team in the league. While Central Baptist was in the Receiving Votes (RV) group.
The AMC might not have gotten a lot of love in the preseason rankings, but it didn’t stop the league games from being a battle each and every night. The AMC finished the season with 5 teams within 1.5 games of 1st place, and ended up being one of the best races to watch over the final two weeks.
The surprise of that group were the Lions of Freed-Hardeman (FHU). The Lions, under 1st year head coach Drew Stutts, were picked 11th in the AMC preseason coaches poll. Coach Stutts and his team had other plans though, as they put together a really good season on their way to proving the doubters wrong. FHU would finish in 4th place, just 1.5 games back of 1st place.
When all was said and done though, it was preseason favorites Park and Central Baptist who finished AMC play at 16-6, and shared the regular season title. Park was able to go 6-2 in February on their way to be Co-Champs, while Central Baptist finished 6-3 down the stretch.
New Faces Become Known
Having lost so many players to graduation and a couple transferring out of their programs, the AMC had loads of opportunity for players to take over the league, and the new faces of the AMC started to emerge early in the season. No one shined more than Harris-Stowe guard Deshawn Munson though. Munson transferred in from Iowa Western Community College and ended the season with SEVEN triple-doubles on his way to being named the AMC Player of the Year, AMC Newcomer of the Year, and 1st Team All-American. He was also a Bevo Francis Award Semi-Finalist, and led NAIA DI in scoring with 28.48ppg.
Another AMC newcomer to make a name for himself was Cory Reeves of Park. The 6’6 Junior, transferred from Niagara County Community College. Reeves averaged 17ppg, 4.8apg,2.2apg, and 2.1spg. Reeves put up some impressive lines, as he stuffed the stats each and every game. He rode his stellar season to 1st team All-AMC, and garnered 2nd Team All-American recognition.
With all of the excitement from the regular season, you knew the AMC Tournament would be a fun one as well. Four of the seven tournament games were decided by 5 points or less or went into OT.
Williams Baptist provided some 1st round sparks, as they went to Park, and got the 84-79 upset win. That win helped to pave a path for a Central Baptist vs Harris-Stowe Title game. Central Baptist had their small gym packed and rocking, but it was the 3 Seed Harris-Stowe, and the AMC Player of the Year, Deshawn Munson who came away with the AMC Tournament Championship. Munson had a triple-double as he dropped 37 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds in the championship game. One of the most impressive games from anyone all season! Both teams would qualify for the NAIA DI National Tournament, but unfortunately the AMC Championship would be the last time we would see either team play, as the NAIA National Tournament got cancelled due to Covid-19.
1st Team All-American
Deshawn Munson – 6’4 Junior
2nd Team All-American
Cory Reeves – 6’6 Junior
3rd Team All-American
Bryan Battle – 6’5 Senior
Tyrone Alston – 6’1
Kortland Martin – 5’10 Junior
Duane Clark Jr. – 6’8 Senior
2019-2020 League Breakdown
Total # teams to reach Top 25 this season: 3 (Central Baptist, Harris-Stowe, Park)
Highest ranking of season: Central Baptist #18 (December 11th Poll)
Teams who finished season in Top 25: Harris-Stowe #24