After leading the Loyola men’s basketball team to a tie for first place in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), redshirt senior guard Marques Townes has been named MVC Player of the Year, the league announced Tuesday afternoon.
Townes, who transferred to Loyola from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2016, averaged 15.9 points, five rebounds and 3.5 assists per game for the Ramblers. He started every game on last year’s Loyola squad that went 32-6 and made a Cinderella run to the Final Four — the first NCAA Tournament appearance for Loyola since 1985.
“It’s a really great feeling individually just to see all the hard work I’ve put in throughout the years to see it finally show,” Townes told reporters before practice March 5. “I wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for the team and the coaching staff having confidence in me. When they have confidence in a player, the sky’s the limit for that player and that’s how I felt this whole year.”
Despite not being named to any all-conference teams last season, Townes was named to the Arch Madness All-Tournament Team and NCAA Tournament All-South Region team. This year, he led Loyola in points and assists as the Ramblers finished atop the MVC for the second straight season.
“After the season last year the coaching staff pulled me aside and said, ‘We know you got robbed,’” Townes said. “I wasn’t even on an [All-MVC] team last year. I took that personally. I’m just glad people are finally noticing now. I had that in the back of my mind the whole year. I just wanted to prove myself.”
Townes is the second straight Loyola player to win MVC Player of the Year after fellow redshirt senior guard Clayton Custer won the award last season. This marks the first time since 1990-91 an MVC program has produced two different Players of the Year in consecutive years.
“I think [Custer and I] will be Loyola legends for sure,” Townes said. “Just to have that cemented in Loyola history, we’ll be remembered for a lifetime.”
In the preseason poll, which was voted on by coaches and media, Custer was predicted to win the award again this season while Townes was named second team preseason All-MVC. Along with Player of the Year, Townes was named first team All-MVC along with sophomore center Cameron Krutwig, who finished third in the Player of the Year vote, while Custer was named third team All-MVC.
Whether he was blowing past his defender for an easy layup or pulling up for a mid-range jump shot, Townes scored at will against the rest of the conference, averaging an MVC-best 18.1 points per game in conference play. This includes scoring 60 combined points in two wins over Drake University — which is tied for first in the MVC with Loyola and the No. 2 seed at Arch Madness.
Townes and the Ramblers are scheduled to open Arch Madness March 8 at noon against the winner of the No. 8 seed Indiana State University vs. No. 9 seed Valparaiso University game March 7 at 6 p.m.