Jeff Neiburg (@Jeff_Neiburg)
On Thursday night when the Colonial Athletic Association’s awards banquet took place and five players were named to the All-CAA First Team, there appeared to be a mistake.
Northeastern junior forward Scott Eatherton had to have made the list. After all, his 18 double-doubles ranked second in the nation behind CAA first-teamer and Player of the Year Jerelle Benimon of Towson, who racked up 20.
Instead, Eatherton was relegated to the All-CAA Second Team.
The Hershey, Pa. native and Hershey High-alum played in his debut season in the CAA, sitting out last year after transferring from St. Francis University (PA). At St. Francis, Eatherton led the Red Flash in rebounding and was the team’s second leading scorer during his sophomore season.
He showed little signs of rust in 2013-14, picking up right where he left off, leading Northeastern in each category at 15.5ppg and 10.1 rpg.
Eatherton didn’t feel slighted in the least. In fact, making the first team was something he never anticipated anyway.
“The first team, there was a lot of seniors and they definitely deserved it,” Eatherton said. “I know [Frantz] Massenat’s had four great years for Drexel, I played him at my old school and played them here. Everytime he would light us up, Chris Fouch too. I knew that there were some great seniors and I wasn’t really expecting anything.”
In Saturday’s quarterfinal though, Eatherton left no doubt who was one of the top players in the league, piling up 23 points and pulling in a game-high 15 rebounds to end the career of the Drexel seniors he mentioned.
With 4:03 to go in the game, a layup from Eatherton gave him 1,000 career points and put the Huskies ahead 72-55, equalling their largest lead.
It was Northeastern’s second consecutive win over Drexel after beating the Dragons in the regular season’s final weekend.
When it came to the All-CAA selection, Northeastern coach Bill Coen shared the sentiments of his 6-foot-8 workhorse.
“There’s so many good players in the league,” Coen said. “And sometimes he had a couple of games down the stretch where he didn’t play like a first-team all performer. You get 16 games to earn that, it doesn’t matter what you did against Florida State or Georgetown, you get 16 games to earn that honor. And I thought he earned a second team bid.”
There’s no denying Eatherton’s abilities. Obviously any player that earns second team honors is certainly recognized as one of the most talented in any given conference.
“Talent wise, he’s as good as anybody in the league but over those 16 games there are other players that played better,” Coen said. “That’s the way it is. He realizes that, he knows he left some stuff on the table. I told him, you have a chance to go out and lead this team over the course of this tournament. He’s embraced that.”
Playing on a team that features just one senior and seven underclassmen, Eatherton has been able to step in and immediately be a leader. It’s the intangibles off the court that help make Eatherton one of the CAA’s best.
“Off the court he’s an outstanding young man,” Northeastern coach Bill Coen said. “He’s a conscientious student, he’s an elite teammate, all the guys love him. Then when you couple that with his attitude in practice, his willingness to get better, his humility – he really doesn’t think he’s a good player, but he’s pretty good – and his drive to get better.”
“When you put all those elements – great kid, great student, great teammate, hard worker and terrific player – he’s just a pleasure to be around each and every day. I think he’s got another level or two left in him.”
And if Eatherton and the rest of the Huskies can find that extra level or two, knocking off top-seeded Delaware on Sunday is a real possibility. Then a winner-take-all contest in Monday’s final, where a trip to the “Big Dance” won’t be far out of reach.