Off the Block releases watch list for 2019 Ryan Millar Award

Photo courtesy of UCLA

Twenty-eight college men’s volleyball middle attackers have been selected to the 2019 watch list for the annual Ryan Millar Award.

Off the Block announced Friday the preseason watch list for the national award that is presented to the best middle attacker in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball during the regular season.

UCLA middle attacker Daenan Gyimah, who won the Ryan Millar Award last season, highlights middle attackers earning the preseason honor. Along with Gyimah, the watch list features three other Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-Americans — Long Beach State’s Nick Amado, UC Irvine’s Scott Stadick and USC’s Sam Lewis.

The Ryan Millar Award watch list was determined by Off the Block using a variety of factors including player performances from previous seasons and projections on standout middle attackers to watch during the upcoming season.

The winner of the Ryan Millar Award will be selected at the end of the regular season by a nationwide voting committee comprised of coaches and media members. The top-three vote-getters will be named finalists, while the player receiving the most votes will be the winner of the Ryan Millar Award presented by Off the Block.

The Ryan Millar Award started in 2016 and was named after the former BYU All-American and former member of the U.S. Men’s National Team. The naming of the award after a player was done in an effort to honor and incorporate the history of college volleyball into this award.

Previous winners of the Ryan Millar Award are former Stanford middle attacker Conrad Kaminski, former Long Beach State middle attacker Amir Lugo-Rodriguez and Gyimah.

Gyimah also has an opportunity this year to become the first multiple-time winner of this new national award.

The Ryan Millar Award is one of five position-based awards presented in college men’s volleyball. Off the Block presents the Lloy Ball Award to the nation’s top setter, the Bryan Ivie Award to the nation’s top opposite, the Karch Kiraly Award to the nation’s top outside attacker and the Erik Shoji Award to the nation’s top libero.

These are the only national position-based awards in college men’s volleyball. Several volleyball organizations give out national end-of-year awards such as All-American Teams, but no national award before the Lloy Ball Award started in 2014 was specific to a position.

Off the Block is a national award winning college men’s volleyball website that launched in 2011 and in is the nation’s leader in college men’s volleyball coverage.

2019 Ryan Millar Award watch list

Nick Amado, Long Beach State
Simon Andersen, Long Beach State
Luca Berger, NJIT
Caleb Blazer, Grand Canyon
Pedro Carvalho, Lincoln Memorial
Max Chamberlain, Pepperdine
Connor Drake, UC Santa Barbara
Felipe de Brito Ferreira, BYU
Thomas Gago, Fort Wayne
Enrique De Diego Garcia, NJIT
Pat Gasman, Hawai’i
Daenan Gyimah, UCLA
Connor Hipelius, Lindenwood
Hunter Howell, Concordia-Irvine
Miki Jauhiainen, BYU
Blake Leeson, Ohio State
Sam Lewis, USC
Brian Long, Belmont Abbey
Tyler Mitchem, Lewis
William Morris, Belmont Abbey
TJ Murray, Lewis
Kyler Presho, Stanford
Jack Reese, George Mason
Adriel Roberts, Charleston
Dalton Solbrig, Hawai’i
Scott Stadick, UC Irvine
Jon Wheaton, King
Austin Wilmot, UC Irvine

Watch list player bios

Compiled by Off the Block editor Vinnie Lopes and Off the Block special contributor Brandon Johnson

Nick Amado, Long Beach State
Amado, a 2019 Preseason All-American, racked up 1.19 blocks per game average, which was the fifth-best mark in the country in 2018. He also hit .452 and collected both Second-Team All-American and First-Team All-Big honors. In addition, Amado delivered the final kill to clinch the national championship for the 49ers.

Simon Andersen, Long Beach State
Anderson hit .471 in his inaugural campaign and had a 0.80 blocks per game average. The middle attacker was a Freshman All-American and a Big West All-Freshman Team selection while leading the 49ers to the national championship.

Luca Berger, NJIT
Berger arrived to NJIT after transferring from Coker and finished 2018 second in the EIVA with a 1.13 blocks per game average. He also hit more than .400 in conference play during his first season with the Highlanders.

Caleb Blazer, Grand Canyon
Blazer was among the national leaders with a 0.97 blocks per game average last season. He also had a 1.18 kills per game average on a .360 attack percentage.

Pedro Carvalho, Lincoln Memorial
Carvalho led the country in both blocks per game average at 1.54 and solo blocks with 33. He also earned All-Independent Team honors and was a finalist for the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Blocker of the Year as the Railsplitters won the IVA Tournament championship.

Max Chamberlain, Pepperdine
Chamberlain averaged 1.16 blocks per game, good for seventh in the country last season. He also hit .372 on the season and fired 21 aces from the service to help the Waves finish in third place in the MPSF.

Connor Drake, UC Santa Barbara
Drake was sixth in the Big West and among the national leaders with a 1.04 blocks per game average last season. The Second-Team All-Big West selection also had a .316 attack percentage and averaged 1.45 kills per game.

Felipe de Brito Ferreira, BYU
Despite playing in only 58 sets in his freshman year, Ferreira hit .500 for the season and averaged 1.14 blocks per game. He also earned an All-MPSF Honorable Mention nod and made the MPSF All-Freshman Team.

Thomas Gago, Fort Wayne
Gago hit .356 and collected a 0.98 blocks per game, good for 25th in the country last season. He earned Second-Team All-MIVA Second Team honors and during the offseason played for the Chilean Men’s National Team.

Enrique De Diego Garcia, NJIT
Garcia returns to college men’s volleyball following a one-year hiatus because of Cal Baptist disbanding its program in 2017. With Cal Baptist, Garcia was a 2016 All-American Honorable Mention and led the nation that season with a .481 attack percentage.

Pat Gasman, Hawai’i
Gasman was in the nation’s top 10 with a 1.09 blocks per game average and hit .430 last season. The middle attacker earned an All-American Honorable Mention and First-Team All-Big West First Team.

Daenan Gyimah, UCLA
Gyimah was the 2018 winner of the Ryan Millar award. He hit for the best percentage in the country at .528, averaged the third-most blocks at 1.22 per game and fired 46 aces. He collected 21 kills in the national championship match as the Bruins fell in five games. Gyimah, a 2019 Preseason All-American, also made the First-Team All-American, First-Team All-MPSF First Team and NCAA All-Tournament Team.

Connor Hipelius, Lindenwood
Hipelius was second in the MIVA and eighth the nation with a 1.16 block per game average last season. The 2019 Preseason All-MIVA selection also was in the nation’s top 10 with a .387 attack percentage.

Hunter Howell, Concordia-Irvine
Howell had a solid all-around 2018 season finishing with the nation’s third-best attack percentage at .426 and collecting a 1.12 blocks per game average. For his efforts, he earned AVCA All-American Honorable Mention and All-MPSF Honorable Mention honors.

Miki Jauhiainen, BYU
Jauhiainen had 72 blocks and a .393 attack percentage as he started 19 matches for BYU last season. He also spent the offseason playing with the Finland Men’s National Team.

Blake Leeson, Ohio State
Leeson in 2018 hit .494 and collected a 0.86 blocks per game average for a Buckeyes team that made the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season. He earned Second-Team All-MIVA honors for his play.

Sam Lewis, USC
Lewis in his freshman year hit .334 and averaged 0.90 blocks per game as he made the All-MPSF Freshman Team. The 2019 Preseason All-American during the summer was the captain the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team that finished fourth in the NORCECA U21 Continental Championship in Cuba.

Brian Long, Belmont Abbey
Long as a freshman last season was second on Belmont Abbey with both a 2.02 kills per game average and 30 aces. The middle attacker also had a 0.52 blocks per game average as he helped the Crusaders reach the ConfCarolinas Tournament semifinals.

Tyler Mitchem, Lewis
Mitchem burst on the scene his freshman year hitting .394 and collecting 1.10 blocks per game average. He earned Second-Team All-MIVA honors as well as making the MIVA All-Freshman Team. He also finished in fifth place in voting for the Ryan Millar Award last season.

William Morris, Belmont Abbey
Morris as a freshman last season led the ConfCarolinas and was sixth in the nation with 110 blocks. The middle attacker also helped the Crusaders advance to the 2018 ConfCarolinas Tournament semifinals.

TJ Murray, Lewis
Murray finished last season with a 1.58 kills per game average on a .439 attack percentage — which would have been second in the MIVA but his 244 attempts were not enough to qualify for this offensive category. The middle attacker also was a Freshman All-American and a Freshman All-MIVA selection as he helped the Flyers reach the MIVA Tournament semifinals.

Kyler Presho, Stanford
Presho put together a fine freshman campaign hitting .410 and collecting a 0.67 blocks per game average. He earned All-MPSF Second Team honors and earned a place on the MPSF All-Freshman team.

Jack Reese, George Mason
Reese ended last season in the nation’s top 30 with a 0.96 blocks per game average. The Second-Team All-EIVA middle attacker also had a .395 attack percentage and a 1.50 kills per game average as he helped the Patriots win the EIVA regular season title.

Adriel Roberts, Charleston
Roberts was in the top five of the EIVA with booth a 1.05 blocks per game average and 96 blocks last season. The middle attacker also spent the offseason playing with the Trinidad Men’s National Team.

Dalton Solbrig, Hawai’i
Solbrig had a .476 attack percentage and collected a 0.89 blocks per game average in 2018. He is among the starters returning for the Rainbow Warriors that had a second-place finish in the inaugural season of the Big West Conference.

Scott Stadick, UC Irvine
Stadick, a finalist for both the 2018 National Blocker of the Year and Ryan Millar Award, was second in the nation with a 1.32 blocks per game average. The 2019 Preseason All-American also had the second-best attack percentage at .422 as he earned Second-Team All-American and First-Team All-Big West honors.

Jon Wheaton, King
Wheaton was in the nation’s top 15 hitting .354 and was among the ConfCarolinas leaders with 90 blocks. He also earned Second-Team All-ConfCarolinas as King won the conference championship and qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.

Austin Wilmot, UC Irvine
Wilmot as a freshman last season was third in the Big West with a 1.12 blocks per game average and had a .337 attack percentage. He also earned Freshman All-Big West honors as helped the Anteaters advance to the NCAA Tournament.