Rivals Antoine Davis (Detroit), Jamal Cain (Oakland) share top league honor

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

It was so maddening trying to figure things out the Horizon League standings most of this season, so why should the postseason awards be any different?

Rivals Antoine Davis of Detroit Mercy and Jamal Cain of Oakland are sharing the league's top honor, as co-players of the year, the league announced Monday afternoon.

It marks the third time the league has had multiple winners, and the first time since 1983.

Oakland's Jamal Cain puts up a shot over Michigan State's Max Christie

Both Davis and Cain took different paths to the award.

Davis, a guard and son of Detroit Mercy head coach Mike Davis, has flirted with the award in each of his previous three seasons, before finally being selected this year — by the league's coaches; the media no longer votes on Horizon League awards.

Davis was this year's preseason Horizon League player of the year, before averaging 23.7 points, third in the country. He's second in the country in made 3-pointers per game, at just under 4. Twice, Davis scored 39 points in a game this season — tops for any Horizon League player — and he averaged 24.1 points and 4.6 assists per league game, ranking first and second, respectively.

And Davis did it playing through a lot of pain. Before the season, he suffered injuries in both Achilles. In the second-to-last regular-season game, he suffered a left-shoulder injury, left the game and had it popped back into place, before returning to the court. The next game, in serious pain, he scored 26.

More: Gonzaga, Arizona remain atop men's AP Top 25 in week of changes

This season, Davis also became Detroit Mercy's all-time leading scorer, and the career scoring leader in Horizon League games.

As co-player of the year, Davis also is first-team all-Horizon League for the fourth season. No other player has accomplished that feat. If he maintains his lead in scoring, he'll be the first Horizon League player to lead the league in scoring average four times.

Detroit Mercy guard Antoine Davis shoots over a UIC defender.

At Oakland, meanwhile, Cain put his one season to good use after transferring from Marquette. The Pontiac native averaged 20.1 points and 10.2 rebounds, and was one of just two players in the country to average more than 20 and 10 this season. He was the only Horizon League player to average a double-double; for the season, he has 15, including 11 in league play.

Cain saved some of his better moments for the best competition, scoring 20 against Michigan State at Little Caesars Arena and scoring 31 in an early season game against then-No. 14 Alabama.

In many ways, the result, reached via a consensus among the league's coach was more player-of-the-career for Davis, and player-of-the-year for Cain.

Cain was the first Oakland player to win the award since Kendrick Nunn in 2018, and also joined Kay Felder (2016). Davis was the fifth Detroit Mercy player to win it (Rashad Phillips, the man Davis passed for the Titans' scoring record, won it twice), and first since Ray McCallum Jr. in 2013. Jermaine Jackson and Willie Green also won the award for Detroit Mercy.

Oakland point guard Jalen Moore made second-team all-Horizon League, and forward Micah Parrish made the all-defensive team.

More: Michigan falls to No. 10 in women's AP Top 25 poll

On the women's side, Oakland guard Kahlaijah Dean was third-team all-Horizon League, and guard Kendall Folley made the all-freshman team.

The Horizon League tournaments begin Tuesday with campus games. On the men's side, Oakland hosts IUPUI and Detroit Mercy hosts Green Bay, while on the women's side, Oakland hosts Wright State and Detroit Mercy visits Northern Kentucky.

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984