Five sophomores on first team, including Big Ten Player of the Year Kalin Lucas;
Eleven of 15 players on first, second and third teams retain eligibility for next season
INDIANAPOLIS Following a season in which sophomores dominated the Big Ten men’s basketball landscape, underclassmen were well-represented on the 2008-09 All-Big Ten teams with all five first-team selections wrapping up their second season on campus. Michigan State’s Kalin Lucas captured the conference’s highest honor, as he was named Big Ten Player of the Year in voting by conference coaches and media. Lucas was joined on both first teams by fellow sophomores Manny Harris of Michigan, Evan Turner of Ohio State, Talor Battle of Penn State and JaJuan Johnson of Purdue. Nine of the 15 standouts named to the All-Big Ten first, second and third teams were sophomores while two juniors and four seniors were also honored.
In addition to the All-Big Ten teams, the conference announced the men’s basketball individual award winners. Lucas earned the nod as the Player of the Year while fellow Spartan Travis Walton was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year by the coaches. Two Ohio State freshmen were also honored, with William Buford tabbed as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year by the coaches and media and B.J. Mullens selected as the Sixth Man of the Year by the coaches. Two mentors shared Big Ten Coach of the Year accolades, as Michigan State’s Tom Izzo was chosen by his peers and Penn State’s Ed DeChellis was honored by the media.
Lucas became the fifth Spartan to earn Big Ten Player of the Year honors, joining Scott Skiles (1986), Shawn Respert (1995), Mateen Cleaves (1998, 1999) and Morris Peterson (2000). The second-year point guard is also the seventh sophomore to earn the conference’s highest honor along with Cleaves (1998), Illinois’ Frank Williams (2001), Indiana’s Jay Edwards (1989) and Jared Jeffries (2002), Ohio State’s Jim Jackson (1991) and Purdue’s Glenn Robinson (1994). Lucas led Michigan State to its first Big Ten Championship since 2001 while ranking second among all players in conference games with 16.5 points per outing. He also ranked among the Big Ten’s top 10 in free throw percentage (third at 84.8 percent), three-point field goal percentage (seventh at 38.9 percent), assists (ninth with 3.67 per game) and assist-to-turnover ratio (ninth at 1.35) in conference play.
In other individual accolades, Walton was the third Spartan to be named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, along with Ken Redfield (1990) and Eric Snow (1995). The senior guard ranked third in conference contests with 1.83 steals per game, part of an MSU defense that rated third in the Big Ten by allowing only 59.2 points per contest and holding opponents to 41 percent field goal shooting. Walton and Purdue’s Chris Kramer, the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year, became the first conference standouts to be named to the Big Ten All-Defensive Team for three straight seasons. They were joined on this year’s squad by Illinois’ Chester Frazier, Minnesota’s Damian Johnson and the Boilermakers’ Johnson.
Ohio State’s freshman duo of Buford and Mullens claimed the remaining individual laurels for student-athletes. Buford is the Buckeyes’ second first-year player in the last three seasons to be named Big Ten Freshman of the Year along with Greg Oden, who was honored in 2007. Five OSU freshmen have now earned the conference’s top honor, including Michael Redd (1998), Greg Simpson (1993) and Jim Jackson (1990). Buford topped all freshmen with 12.6 points per game in conference outings, good for second on the team and 13th among all players. Mullens became Ohio State’s second Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year in the four years of the award, as fellow freshman Daequan Cook was tabbed in 2007. Mullens, who started only two of 29 games this season, led the Big Ten by connecting on 70.3 percent of his field goals during conference play while adding 9.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.11 blocks per contest. Buford and Mullens were also named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team, along with Iowa’s Matt Gatens, Michigan State’s Delvon Roe and Purdue’s Lewis Jackson.
For the first time in Big Ten history, the Coach of the Year award was shared by a pair of mentors in Michigan State’s Izzo and Penn State’s DeChellis. Izzo was tabbed by his fellow coaches after earning his fifth Big Ten Championship and guiding the Spartans to a 25-5 overall record, despite using a multitude of starting lineups due to illness and injury. Michigan State posted a 15-3 conference mark, the program’s most Big Ten triumphs in a season since posting a 15-1 record during the 1998-99 campaign. Izzo picks up his second Coach of the Year accolade, his first since 1998 and is one of only two Spartans to be so honored (Jud Heathcote in 1978 and 1986).
DeChellis was honored by the media after leading the Nittany Lions to a 21-10 regular-season record, an increase of six victories over last season and the school’s first 20-win campaign since going 21-12 during the 2000-01 season. Penn State also produced a 10-8 conference record, the second-most Big Ten triumphs in school history behind only the 1995-96 squad that went 12-6 in conference play. DeChellis is the first Penn State mentor to earn Big Ten Coach of the Year laurels.
The conference office also announced honorees from each team for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. The student-athletes chosen are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, the student-athletes must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting. Honorees for men’s basketball are Trent Meacham, Illinois; Kyle Taber, Indiana; Devan Bawinkel, Iowa; C.J. Lee, Michigan; Idong Ibok, Michigan State; Jamal Abu-Shamala, Minnesota; Patrick Houlihan, Northwestern; Jon Diebler, Ohio State; Drew Jones, Penn State; Bobby Riddell, Purdue; Marcus Landry, Wisconsin. These 11 student-athletes are now candidates for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, as the conference office will honor one male and one female student-athlete from each institution at the end of the school year.