BYU basketball: UNM's Hobson edges Jimmer Fredette for MWC player of the year
Utah's David Foster and BYU's Jonathan Tavernari honored
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
With the Mountain West Conference regular season in the books, BYU guards Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery were leading candidates for player of the year and defensive player of the year awards, respectively.
But the Cougar duo came up empty-handed when those honors were announced Monday by the league.
Instead, New Mexico's Darington Hobson, a transfer from the College of Eastern Utah who led the Lobos to an outright regular season title and a No. 8 national ranking, was named the player of the year, while Utah's David Foster captured defensive player of the year accolades.
Fredette did earn a spot on the All-MWC first-team, along with Hobson, New Mexico's Dairese Gary, San Diego State's Kawhi Leonard and UNLV's Tre'Von Willis. Emery secured a spot on the All-MWC second team.
Though he didn't win the player of the year award, Fredette praised Hobson.
"I wasn't quite deserving of it. Darington had a great year and New Mexico was obviously the best team this year in the league," said the Cougar junior, who led the league in scoring and is a candidate for three national player of the year awards. "That's kind of why he got it. You don't worry about it, though. You just go out and play and get ready for the next game ahead."
BYU, the No. 2 seed, faces TCU Thursday (7 p.m., The mtn.) in the MWC Tournament quarterfinals in Las Vegas.
Asked if not receiving the award could be a motivator going into the tournament, Fredette said, "Maybe a little bit. It could definitely motivate you, obviously."
When New Mexico visited BYU last month in Provo, Hobson led the Lobos to victory — which included blocking a Noah Hartsock shot in the game's waning seconds to preserve the win — while Fredette missed much of the game due to a stomach virus. In fact, Fredette was sidelined for two games this season, and was less-than-100 percent in several others, due to illnesses.
"I think Jimmer had an outstanding year," said BYU coach Dave Rose. "He easily could have been the player of the year."
For the season, Hobson ranked No. 3 in the MWC in scoring (15.8 ppg), No. 2 in rebounding (9.1 rpg), No. 4 in assists (4.6 apg), No. 10 in free throw percentage (.659), No. 7 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6), No. 7 in offensive rebounding (2.2 rpg), No. 1 in defensive rebounding (7.0 rpg), and No. 5 in minutes played (33.1).
By comparison, Fredette ranked No. 1 in the league in scoring (20.6 ppg), No. 8 in field goal percentage (.465), No. 2 in assists (4.7 apg), No. 2 in free throw percentage (.881), No. 1 in 3-point field goal percentage (.472), No. 3 in 3-point field goals made (67), and No. 3 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.9).
Voting for the MWC awards was done by the nine men's head coaches and selected media members.
Emery led the league in steals (2.7 per game) while the 7-foot-3 Foster led the league in blocked shots (4 per game). Both Emery and Foster were selected to the All-MWC defensive team.
"There were a lot of achievements for our team and for me personally. It's an honor," said Emery. "At the same time, you set your goals a little higher, hoping you would win that (defensive player of the year award). But it's not the end of the world. It doesn't ruin my life. What I want to do is win the tournament. That's the most important thing ... Foster's big and he alters offenses. Congratulations to him."
Another Cougar, senior Jonathan Tavernari, received the sixth man of the year award. A former starter, Tavernari went to his coaches early in the season and asked for a new role.
"To be able to win an award by coming off the bench and giving the team a spark, and doing what I do best, scoring, I have to credit my teammates for sharing the ball and finding me when I'm open," said Tavernari.
"I was really pleased with JT and his selection," said Rose.
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