Looking for a sleeper All-American candidate from a small school next season? Jalan West is a great nominee. And the fact he'll even be playing college hoops next year is a surprise gift for the sport and his team, Northwestern State, a team out of the Southland Conference.
The school announced on Monday afternoon that the NCAA has granted West a sixth year of eligibility. Why? West, a dynamic point guard, was injured last season, ripping up his ACL in the team's season-opener against Ole Miss.
"[West's] collegiate future was in limbo after he missed his freshman season because of an NCAA Clearinghouse issue," per NSU's release. "Student-athletes have five years to play four seasons, but the NCAA can grant players a sixth season under extenuating circumstances."
It's a big win for NSU, which will have a good chance to win the league next season. Remember, Stephen F. Austin has been king of the Southland as of late, but its coach, Brad Underwood, left to take the Oklahoma State job. SFA star Thomas Walkup has graduated, too. The Demons can be a team that are capable of damage in November and March.
West graduated over the weekend. He even introduced the commencement speaker at NSU. Now he gets one final tour of college basketball, and he'll try to better his nation-leading 7.7 assists average from 2014-15. Prior to his injury, West was considered the Southland's best player the past two seasons. He'll have a good chance at averaging upward of 20 points, too, which puts him in Kay Felder territory. The Oakland junior -- who has declared for the NBA Draft -- came close to becoming the first player in NCAA history to lead the nation in assists and points.
Now West will have a chance to try just that, and perhaps he'll be able to bookend his career with NCAA Tournament showings. The Demons made the Big Dance when West was a freshman, in 2013.