Denzel Valentine has done it all for Michigan State, and the senior is The Associated Press Player of the Year in the Big Ten.
Valentine was among three unanimous picks on the AP All-Big Ten first team announced Monday along with Indiana guard Kevin ”Yogi” Ferrell and Iowa forward Jarrod Uthoff.
The other first-team selections, determined by a vote of media members who cover the league, were Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes and Purdue center A.J. Hammons.
Valentine overcame a knee injury that cost him four games early in the season to stamp himself as perhaps the nation’s most versatile player. The senior from Lansing, Michigan, finished the regular season first in the conference in scoring (19.6 ppg) and assists (7.5) and as the top rebounding guard (7.5). Since assists became an official NCAA statistic in 1983-84, no player has averaged as many points, rebounds and assists in the same season.
Indiana’s Tom Crean was voted coach of the year after leading the Hoosiers to their second Big Ten regular-season title in four years. Maryland freshman center Diamond Stone was newcomer of the year, and Hammons edged out teammate Raphael Davis for defensive player of the year.
Valentine ended the regular season with his ninth double-double of the season with 27 points and a career-high tying 13 assists against Ohio State on Saturday.
”I don’t know many guys that have improved in every aspect of the game like he has,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. ”I reiterate what I’ve said a bazillion times in the last two weeks. I love another candidate or two out there, but I prejudicially say that he’s the (national) player of the year.”