After a Big Ten conference season that saw the Indiana Hoosiers take home the regular season title along a bevy of other high quality teams just below them, the Associated Press announced the end of season awards.
The All-Big Ten team, newcomer of the year, player of the year, defensive player of the year and coach of the year were all announced Monday by the Associated Press, a day after the conclusion of the regular season and just a few days before the Big Ten tournament gets underway in Indianapolis.
Player of the Year: Denzel Valentine, Michigan State
Denzel Valentine of Michigan State was named the AP Big Ten Player of the Year in the conference. Valentine did it all on the court as he averaged 19.6 points per game to go along with 7.5 assists and 7.5 rebounds per game, which was top amongst guards. No player has averaged as many points, rebounds and assists since assists were kept in 1983-84.
Valentine did miss four games early on in the season, but came back and led Michigan State to a 13-5 regular season which was good for a two seed in the Big Ten tournament. He will most likely be a finalist for Player of the Year in the entire nation come the end of the season.
AP All-Big Ten First Team
Valentine was joined by Yogi Ferrell of Indiana, Jarrod Uthoff of Iowa, A.J. Hammons of Purdue, and Nigel Hayes of Wisconsin as AP All-Big Ten First Team selections. Ferrell, Uthoff, and Valentine were chosen as unanimous selections by the voters.
All of these players are worthy recipients of this honor as all five players can get it done on the hardwood.
Uthoff has really elevated his game this season as he has been getting it done all season long for the Hawkeyes averaging 18.8 points, good for second in the Big Ten, along with a conference best 2.7 blocks per game. The senior has been a marksman from behind the arc as he is shooting 39.2 percent from behind the arc which accounts for about one-third of his points.
Ferrell has been playing out of his mind in his senior season in Bloomington and many thought he could give Valentine a run for his money as Big Ten player of the year. The senior finished the regular season averaging 17.1 points along with 5.5 assists per game.
Hayes had to take over as a leader for a Wisconsin program that has been under the direction of Greg Gard ever since Bo Ryan stepped down in December. After last season where this Badgers program reached a national championship, he was one of two starters to return and this season averaged 16.5 points and 5.8 rebounds.
Hammons for Purdue has been a fantastic player all season long in his senior season and has improved his offensive numbers each year. This season Hammons averaged 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds along with being a force on the defensive side of the floor for the Boilermakers.
Coach of the Year: Tom Crean, Indiana
Things may not have started out all that great for Indiana this season after Maui and the trip to Duke, but coach Tom Crean has rallied the troops and has led Indiana to a record-tying 22nd Big Ten regular season championship. After the loss to Duke, Indiana has gone 20-3 which includes a 15-3 conference record.
The seat always seems to be hot when you are the head coach at Indiana, and coming into this season it seemed to be scorching hot. What Crean did in turning around this team and leading them to where they are now speaks volumes about what he did with this team after losing the team's second leading scorer at the start of the conference season.
Newcomer of the Year: Diamond Stone, Maryland
There were some good freshman this season in the Big Ten, but Maryland's Diamond Stone outshined the others as the freshman big man was named the Newcomer of the Year.
Stone was the Terrapins' second leading scorer at 12.7 points and was a force on the post this season in the conference. He beat out fellow big men Thomas Bryant and Ethan Happ who also had good seasons for their respective teams.