Mercer senior Daniel Emerson was named the Georgia college men’s basketball “Player of the Year” for the 2009-10 season by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Emerson, along with other ATC award winners, was honored March 23 at the Naismith Awards Banquet at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center in Atlanta.
Earning an award like this might have been the furthest thing from Emerson’s mind after transferring to Mercer.
Despite having two older siblings enjoy successful careers for the Bears, the youngest Emerson endured two years that were largely mediocre at Western Kentucky University before having Georgia – and Mercer – on his mind. Being in the Bears’ colors, ultimately, opened the door for Emerson’s best college basketball years.
Tipoff Club Chairman Barry Goheen (right) presents Daniel Emerson with the Naismith Award in Atlanta.
“I was shocked when coach first told me about the award,” said Emerson. “This is especially meaningful when you think of the great players in the state this year like (Trey) Thompkins from Georgia, Georgia Tech’s (Derrick) Favors and (Gani) Lawal, as well as Flo (Mercer teammate James Florence).
“The award means a lot because I came a long way to even get back to Georgia to finish my career. It puts a cap on what I was able to accomplish the last two years (at Mercer).
“But more importantly, it shows what we were able to do as a team. The fact that we had a solid enough season to make voters even notice our team and pay attention to one of our players says something. I felt like we sort of put Mercer back on the map.”
While other players may have posted better numbers in one category or another, few can claim the efficiency of Emerson’s game. His percentages in all areas of shooting – field goals, three-point attempts and free throws – were all at high levels. At the same time, his rebounding numbers were unquestioned.
“I am so very happy and pleased that Danny has received this award,” said MU head coach Bob Hoffman. “I believe that this is truly a testament to his day-in and day-out, blue collar work ethic. Danny is not a ‘flashy’ player, but he is about as consistent as you can get.
“If you think about what it takes to end the season averaging a double-double, especially when he frequently has to go up against taller players, it speaks volumes about how hard he works and how much he puts into his game.
“Furthermore, as good of a player as Danny is on the basketball court, he is an even better example as a young man. I am as proud of him for how he carries the Mercer banner and represents our program away from the game as I am with how he plays basketball. He’s a good student, a good citizen and a pretty darn good basketball player, too.
“This award, I believe, is a tribute to all of those aspects!”
Emerson averaged a stellar 15.4 points and 12 rebounds per game, leading the Bears to the championship game of the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament. Even after suffering a serious eye injury in the second-to-last regular season game, Emerson game back strong in the A-Sun championships to earn all-tournament accolades by averaging 16.7 points and 12.3 rebounds for Mercer’s three contests.
His rebounds average ranks third in the nation. Likewise, his 21 double-doubles is the third-highest total in the country. Emerson tops the A-Sun Conference in both of those categories and is also among the league leaders for scoring (seventh), field goal percentage (fifth/54.4 percent), and free throw percentage (eighth/73.8 percent). On the season, Emerson rolled up double figures in scoring in 28 of 32 games and in 25 of 32 games in rebounding.
The 6-8 Emerson’s 385 rebounds this year set a Mercer University single-season record. Additionally, that total was an A-Sun Conference record, as well, erasing one of the oldest standards in the books (359, set by Centenary’s George Lett in 1978-79, the very first year of the A-Sun as a league).
Emerson’s selection as an A-Sun All-Conference first team member for 2009-10 was also a bit historic. By being named first team – he was previously a second team pick in 2008-09 – Emerson joined older brothers Scott and Will as being recognized as first team All-A-Sun honorees for Mercer’s men’s basketball program.
Emerson was a graduate of Norcross High School (he also attended Camden County High School in Kingsland, before moving to Norcross). Emerson has already earned his bachelor’s degree in business and is currently working on his master’s in business at Mercer.