Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Tuesday, March 8, 2011 | 2:15 a.m.
When UNLV coach Lon Kruger huddled his team up following Monday's practice, he announced that Tre'Von Willis, Chace Stanback and Oscar Bellfield were earlier in the day named All-Mountain West Conference performers, Willis had a blank stare on his face.
A recent surge towards the end of the season made up for Willis's tough start in conference play, and he was given second team All-MWC honors.
"I was shocked — I wasn't expecting to get anything," said Willis, who averaged 14.5 points and 3.8 assists per game in conference play. "That just shows you I'm getting a little healthier. This is the healthiest I've been all season long. Hopefully I keep progressing towards 100 percent."
Willis was a first team All-MWC honoree a year ago, and was picked to earn a similar title before his senior season. However, he was slow to heal from knee surgery he underwent back in August and struggled to look like the Willis of old.
That is until about two weeks ago.
After coming and going in terms of both health and production for much of the season, the Fresno, Calif., native has saved his best for the stretch run. Since bailing the Rebels out late in an ugly 49-42 victory over Air Force on Feb. 15, he's re-assumed the role of the team's alpha dog.
In the team's four games to close out the regular season, he averaged 15.3 points off of 50 percent shooting, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per outing.
"His finish has been really similar, production-wise, to what he was doing last year," Kruger said. "And it's much-needed."
Both Bellfield and Stanback landed on the five-member third team. Stanback was on the third team a year ago, while Bellfield was honorable mention.
The Rebels' lone snub for any of the postseason awards or honors was rising sophomore guard Anthony Marshall, who many would say was UNLV's most consistent player in the conference season.
In 16 games, Marshall averaged 9.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals. He was a legitimate candidate for either third team or honorable mention praise, or a spot on the league's All-Defensive team.
"A little bit surprised," Kruger said. "Anthony had a good year. Again, obviously a lot of good players in the league, and we're biased, but we would have liked to have seen that for sure."
Added Willis: "He was real important, and it's a shame. Maybe they felt like he didn't deserve it because we finished third."
The votes for the awards were cast by the league's media members, and all winners are listed below.
UNLV's season continues on Thursday at 8:30 p.m., when the Rebels (23-7 overall, 11-5 Mountain West) take on Air Force (15-14, 6-10) in the MWC tournament quarterfinals at the Thomas & Mack Center. The winner will take on whoever emerges from a match-up between San Diego State (29-2, 14-2) and Utah (13-17, 6-10) on Friday night at 8:30.
First Team All-MWC: Jimmer Fredette, senior guard, BYU; Andy Ogide, senior forward, Colorado State; Dairese Gary, senior guard, New Mexico; D.J. Gay, senior guard, San Diego State; Kawhi Leonard, sophomore forward, San Diego State.
Second Team All-MWC: Jackson Emery, senior guard, BYU; Drew Gordon, junior forward, New Mexico; Malcolm Thomas, senior forward, San Diego State; Tre'Von Willis, senior guard, UNLV; Will Clyburn, junior forward, Utah.
Third Team All-MWC: Michael Lyons, sophomore guard, Air Force; Brandon Davies, sophomore forward, BYU; Hank Thorns, junior guard, TCU; Oscar Bellfield, junior guard, UNLV; Chace Stanback, junior forward, UNLV.
Honorable Mention All-MWC: Tom Fow, senior forward, Air Force; Evan Washington, senior guard, Air Force; Noah Hartsock, junior forward, BYU; Travis Franklin, senior forward, Colorado State; Kendall Williams, freshman guard, New Mexico; Billy White, senior forward, San Diego State; Josh Watkins, junior guard, Utah; Desmar Jackson, sophomore guard, Wyoming; Amath M'Baye, sophomore forward, Wyoming.
All-Defensive Team: Jackson Emery, senior guard, BYU; Dairese Gary, senior guard, New Mexico; Kawhi Leonard, sophomore forward, San Diego State; David Foster, junior center, Utah.
Player of the Year: Jimmer Fredette, senior guard, BYU.
Defensive Player of the Year: Jackson Emery, senior guard, BYU.
Newcomer of the Year: Drew Gordon, junior forward, New Mexico.
Freshman of the Year: Kendall Williams, freshman guard, New Mexico.
Sixth Man of the Year: Pierece Hornung, sophomore forward, Colorado State.
Co-Coaches of the Year: Dave Rose, BYU; Steve Fisher, San Diego State.