The Rider News 2023-24 men’s and women’s players of the year

By Benjamin Shinault and Kadie DiGiuseppe

Mervin James

Rider men’s basketball senior forward Mervin James will close out his short yet electric Broncs career as player of the year, decided by polls on The Rider News social media and newspaper. 

James, who transferred to Rider from North Alabama before the 2021-22 season, made an immediate impact when he stepped on the hardwood in the Alumni Gym. In his junior season with the Broncs, James averaged 11 points per game and five rebounds.

 In his next two seasons, James only continued to grow into his athletic build, scoring averages of 12.9 points per game in his senior season and then closing out his Rider career with about 18.9 points per game in his redshirt senior season.

This past season for James was the best of his collegiate career and it was one of the best single seasons that Broncs fans have seen for quite some time. James recorded over 20 points 16 times in the 2023-24 season and was named MAAC player of the week three times. 

 Last season, James was named to the All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference second team. In the 2023-24 season, James was named to the All-MAAC first team and the National Association of Basketball Coaches all-district first team. James was a second-teamer for the All-Met team and a finalist for MAAC player of the year.

“I work super hard for everything I have and want, so some of these rewards aren’t a surprise to me,” James said.

James was one of the fiercest players in the MAAC during the 2023-24 season, leading in scoring, 10th in rebounding and blocks, eighth in field goal percentage and third in free throw shooting percentage.

“This year, I ended up leaving with something that will last for the rest of my life: a brotherhood. I learned how to lead my first team in the process of all this, and it showed me people look up to me, so I should never give up,” James said.

In the final game of the 2023-24 season, which ended up being James’ last game of his Rider career, James scored 17 of the Broncs’ 48 total points in the quarterfinal round against the Saint Peter’s Peacocks in the MAAC tournament.

Although this past season has come to an end and James’ career at Rider came to a close, his basketball career as a whole might not be done.

“I plan on testing the waters for the NBA or the G-League,” James said. “I want to try to exhaust all my possible options towards getting a chance to go to the league.”

Taylor Langan

After her first season as a Bronc, graduate student guard Taylor Langan was voted The Rider News’ 2023-24 women’s player of the year for her efforts as a key part of Rider women’s basketball. The award was decided via a poll sent by the newspaper and social media. 

Langan had a remarkable season. She scored her 1,000th career point, she was named All-MAAC second team and her buzzer-beating shot in a midseason matchup against Iona made SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays of the week. 

Langan said that finding out she had been featured on SportsCenter “was the craziest thing ever.”

A native of New Jersey’s Lake Hopatcong, Langan grew up playing soccer, basketball and running track at Jefferson High School. During her senior year, Langan was named New Jersey Morris County player of the year, the New Jersey Herald’s co-player of the year and New Jersey Mugs Media player of the year. 

Before coming to Rider, Langan attended Colgate University for four years but only played two basketball seasons due to an injury. In the 2019-20 season, she played 30 games off the bench. In the 2021-22 season, Langan played nine games and started six. 

After her four years with the Raiders, Langan played one season at Millersville University, where she led the league in steals, led the team in scoring points per game and was also named All-PSAC east first team, PSAC defensive athlete of the week as well as PSAC athlete of the week.

Coming into a completely new conference, Langan explained that the adjustment took a lot of scouting. Rider women’s basketball Head Coach Lynn Milligan praised Langan for adjusting so well to a new team and coaches. 

“She came in with the right mentality. Taylor had goals and desires for us and she did that pretty much perfectly,” Milligan added. “It meant a lot that she was able to lead, be successful and be all-in with us.”

Langan saw the moment she made All-MAAC second team as bittersweet, as she wasn’t able to carry the team to victory in the end. 

She also noted that she was surprised when she received the call from Milligan. However, Langan said, “It was definitely a personal goal of mine.”

She also recalled the joy of finding out that she had scored 1,000 career points, but her favorite moment was scoring the game-winning shot against Iona in the middle of the season. 

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