CHICAGO — The Big Ten unveiled its conference honors ahead of the Big Ten Tournament with the regular season complete. Michigan saw all five of its regular starters receive at least an honorable mention, with Ignas Brazdeikis collecting an individual honor. Michigan’s five Big Ten honorees are the most since the 1984-85 season.
All-Big Ten Second Team – Zavier Simpson and Ignas Brazdeikis
Simpson shot 42.8% from the field on the season, scoring 9.1 points per game along with dishing 6.3 assists per game and grabbing 5.1 rebounds per game, all three are new career highs for the Lima, Ohio native.
For Brazdeikis, he finished his freshman year as the team’s leading scorer, averaging 15.0 ppg. His field goal percentage finished second behind Jon Teske, shooting 46.6% from the field.
All-Big Ten Honorable Mention – Charles Matthews (Media), Jordan Poole (Coaches and Media), Jon Teske (Coaches and Media)
The remaining members of Michigan’s starting five received all-conference honorable mentions, with Poole and Teske earning the nod from both coaches and media, and Charles Matthews selection came from the media panel.
In addition to All-Big Ten second team, Zavier Simpson was also named to the Big Ten All-Defensive Team.
Big Ten Freshman of the Year – Ignas Brazdeikis
In a standout class of freshman, Brazdeikis stood tall above the rest, earning conference’s top individual award for freshmen. Brazdeikis is the first Wolverine to earn Freshman of the Year honors since Trey Burke shared the prize in 2012 with Indiana’s Cody Zeller. The Oakville, Ontario native is the seventh Wolverine in program history to win the award.
“I definitely learned a lot throughout the season,” Brazdeikis told BTN’s Mike Hall in a televised interview Monday. “Didn’t know what to expect going into it. The physicality of the league and the toughness and everything, I knew people said how tough the league was, but actually experiencing it. I learned a lot and I feel like I am a whole different player now.”
In addition to leading the Wolverines in scoring, Brazdeikis finished second on the team with 5.3 rebounds per game, trailing only Teske. The freshman led Michigan with 20 points in the Wolverines loss to Michigan State before fouling out in the second half. It was his 17th game reaching double-digit scoring in 20 conference games this season. Brazdeikis was also named to the All-Freshman team, becoming the first Wolverine since Derrick Walton Jr. in 2014 to earn that distinction.
“It is an absolute honor to earn the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year award,” said Brazdeikis via release. “I cannot thank Coach (John) Beilein, the staff and my teammates enough for helping me throughout this first year and to get into a position to be considered for this award. We have had a lot of success but we aren’t done just yet.”
Player of the Year – Cassius Winston, Michigan State
This was a fairly obvious choice by the end of the regular season. Winston shined when the lights were brightest as the Spartans claimed a share of a second straight Big Ten Championship. His 19.0 PPG ranked fourth in the conference, and the junior led the Big Ten with 7.6 assists per game. His +386 was also the highest mark in the conference. Winston is the fourth Spartan since 2008 to win the award, following Kalin Lucas (2009) Draymond Green (2012) and Denzel Valentine (2016.) The Spartans have had eight players named B1G Player of the Year nine times, with Mateen Cleaves winning it back-to-back in 1998 and 1999. The Spartans will face the winner of No. 8 Indiana/No. 9 Ohio State in the first game on Friday.
Coach of the Year – Matt Painter, Purdue
The Boilermakers were 6-5 (1-1 Big Ten) on December 15. All Purdue’s longtime head coach did was coach his team to a 16-4 finish and a share of the conference title for the second time in three years and his third regular season title overall. Painter and the Boilermakers open play Friday in Chicago looking to win the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 2009.
Defensive Player of the Year – Josh Reaves, Penn State
The Penn State senior guard beat out Matthews, Simpson, and Teske for the top defensive honor in the conference. He also was named to the Conference’s All-Defensive team for the third time in his career. Reaves led the Big Ten in steals for a third consecutive season, averaging a career-best 2.5 per game. The Nittany Lions are the 10-seed in the Big Ten Tournament and open against No. 7 Minnesota Thursday evening.
Sixth Man of the Year – Xavier Tillman, Michigan State
The Spartan sophomore has started the last five games with Nick Ward out injured, but the 6’8 forward has shined all season long for the Spartans. Tillman finished the season averaging 9.3 points and 7 rebounds per game. He reached double-figures in his last five games of the regular season as a starter.
All-Big Ten – First Team
Cassius Winston (MSU)
Carsen Edwards (Purdue)
Bruno Fernando (Maryland)
Ethan Happ (Wisconsin)
Lamar Stevens (Penn State/Coaches Selection)
Jordan Murphy (Minnesota/Media Selection)
All-Big Ten – Second Team
Consensus: Zavier Simpson (Michigan) Ignas Brazdeikis (Michigan) Anthony Cowan Jr. (Maryland)
Coaches: Romeo Langford (Indiana) Jordan Murphy (Minnesota)
Media: Tyler Cook (Iowa) Lamar Stevens (Penn State)
All-Big Ten – Third Team
Consensus: Nick Ward (Michigan State) James Palmer. Jr (Nebraska) Amir Coffey (Minnesota)
Coaches: Jordan Bohannon (Iowa) Tyler Cook (Iowa)
Media: Romeo Langford (Indiana) Juwan Morgan (Indiana)
All-Big Ten Defensive Team
Bruno Fernando (Maryland) Zavier Simpson (Michigan) Matt McQuaid (Michigan State) Josh Reaves (Penn State) Nojel Eastern (Purdue)
All-Big Ten Freshman Team
Ignas Brazdeikis (Michigan) Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois) Romeo Langford (Indiana) Jalen Smith (Maryland) Joe Wieskamp (Iowa)