Peatling named Big Sky Conference MVP

Eastern Washington's Mason Peatling posts up Portland State defender in 71-69 victory
Eastern Washington's Mason Peatling posts up Portland State defender in 71-69 victory.

CHENEY, Wash. — The hardware haul was large for the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team, but none bigger than the one senior Mason Peatling deservedly garnered.

The Eagle senior capped a dominating run through the Big Sky Conference by being selected as the Most Valuable Player by the league’s 11 head coaches, the Big Sky announced on Tuesday (March 10). He becomes the fifth Eagle to win the award in EWU’s 33 seasons as a member of the league.

Peatling was one of three unanimous choices on the All-Big Sky first team, with Eagle junior Jacob Davison picked for the second team and sophomore Kim Aiken Jr. earning third team honors. That trio helped the Eagles win the Big Sky Conference regular season title outright with a 16-4 record, and EWU begins play Thursday (March 12) in the Big Sky Conference Tournament with a 23-8 record overall.

Peatling was on fire during the league season, closing with averages of 18.5 points on 56 percent shooting from the field, 10.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.7 blocked shots and 0.8 steals. He’s had 11 double-doubles in his last 15 games as he joined Alvin Snow (2004), Rodney Stuckey (2006), Jacob Wiley (2017) and Bogdan Bliznyuk (2018) as MVP choices from EWU.

Peatling was a second team All-Big Sky selection a year ago, and was honorable mention as a sophomore in the 2017-18 season.

“Mason is as deserving of the MVP as any player I’ve ever been around,” said Eastern head coach Shantay Legans of the 6-foot-8 forward from Melbourne, Australia. “I’m so thrilled he is getting recognized for all the hard work he’s put in over his years at Eastern.”

Peatling was the only player in the league to rank in the top 10 in league-games only in scoring, rebounding, assists, blocked shots and field goal percentage, and he ranked in the top six in each. Further, he is also the only player to average a double-double.

In league games only, he ranked first in rebounding (10.4), third in field goal percentage (.563), fifth in scoring (18.5), sixth in assists (3.8) and third in blocked shots (1.7). He was also first in offensive rebounds (3.9), second in defensive rebounds (6.5), eighth in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.4) and 14th in free throw percentage (.636).

“Those who have followed the team know just how much he’s improved year after year, which is a product of his tireless work ethic,” added Legans. “He’s as good a person and teammate as he is a ball player, and there’s no one that embodies the Eagle culture more than him.”

Davison, a 6-4 guard from Long Beach, Calif., overtook Peatling for fourth in scoring (18.7) in league games only. He ranked 11th in field goal percentage (.439), 10th in free throw percentage (.752), 12th in steals (1.2) and 14th in assists (2.7). He’ll enter the Big Sky tournament with three-straight games of at least 20 points after having missed the last 10 games last season with an injury.

“Jacob is one of the most talented players I’ve ever coached, and he’s worked hard to improve all facets of his game,” said Legans of the third team All-Big Sky selection a year ago. “He’s battled through a lot of adversity during his time at EWU, and it’s great to see that hard work pay off. He adds a rare dimension to our team and we certainly wouldn’t have won the conference without him. We’re incredibly lucky to have him on our squad both this year and going forward.”

Aiken closed the league season second in rebounding (9.0), first in defensive rebounds (7.5), third in 3-pointers made per game (2.3), fifth in steals (1.7), 12th in blocked shots (1.1) and 21st in scoring (12.1). He is a 6-foot-7 guard/forward from Redlands, Calif., and joined Peatling as a member of the last year’s Big Sky All-Tournament team when EWU advanced to the championship game for the second season in a row.

“Kim is not only a great ball player, but he’s one of the best persons I’ve ever been around,” said Legans. “He exudes positivity throughout our locker room and is so valuable to our success. He’s worked hard to sharpen his offensive game, and I don’t know that there is anyone in the conference who is a better defender. I’m so happy to see him recognized for his massive contributions to our team, both on and off the court.”

That trio has combined for 61 percent of EWU’s scoring, 60 percent of its rebounding and 80 percent of its blocked shots. In addition, they have combined for 65 percent of the team’s free throws made, 55 percent of its steals, 50 percent of its 3-pointers made, 61 percent of its field goals overall and 47 percent of the total minutes for the Eagles.