Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Monday, March 11, 2013 | 6 p.m.
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Despite struggling through a shoulder injury down the stretch, UNLV's Anthony Bennett ends his freshman regular season with multiple Mountain West honors. And he’s got some Rebel company.
Bennett was named to the all-Mountain West first team and also received Freshman of the Year honors, one of three Rebels to earn multiple distinctions when the league announced its year-end awards Monday evening.
“It means a lot, people noticing my hard work,” Bennett said. “Before the season I wrote down some goals and I accomplished it.”
That list included both first team and Freshman of the Year honors. There are more items to check off but Bennett declined to share any.
“Hopefully I can get them,” he said.
Joining him are senior Anthony Marshall, who picked up second team and all-defense honors for the second consecutive season, and sophomore Khem Birch, who was named the Defensive Player of the Year and received enough team votes to be an honorable mention.
Marshall didn’t hide the fact he thought he deserved first team recognition.
“I’m kind of disappointed, it puts a chip on my shoulder,” he said, “but at the same time I’m more focused on our team winning games and winning the conference title this week.”
After winning the Mountain West by multiple games, New Mexico took home plenty of big awards, too. Guard Kendall Williams made the first team and is the league’s Player of the Year, beating out defending champ Jamaal Franklin, who also made the first team for San Diego State this season. Franklin, Williams and Bennett are joined on the first team by Colorado State’s Colton Iverson, the Newcomer of the Year, and Air Force’s Michael Lyons.
New Mexico also took home a second team combined with all-defense (Alex Kirk), a third team (Tony Snell), two honorable mentions (Hugh Greenwood and Cameron Bairstow), and Steve Alford was named the Coach of the Year. New Mexico and Colorado State tied for the most representatives (three) on the three teams, though the Lobos win five to four including honorable mentions.
Bennett is the first Rebel to win Freshman of the Year since Dalron Johnson shared it in 2000 and the first to win it outright since Kaspars Kambala in 1998. Birch is the first UNLV Defensive Player of the Year since Joel Anthony in 2007. This is the second straight year that UNLV has one player on the first team, one on the second and two on all-defense. Last year it was Mike Moser (first team) and Marshall filling out the roles.
Here are all the honorees:
Kendall Williams, New Mexico
Michael Lyons, Air Force
Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
Anthony Bennett, UNLV
Colton Iverson, Colorado State
Dorian Green, Colorado State
Anthony Drmic, Boise State
Derrick Marks, Boise State
Anthony Marshall, UNLV
Alex Kirk, New Mexico
Deonte Burton, UNR
Chase Tapley, San Diego State
Tony Snell, New Mexico
Pierce Hornung, Colorado State
Leonard Washington, Wyoming
Khem Birch, UNLV
Wes Eikmeier, Colorado State
Tyler Johnson, Fresno State
Malik Story, UNR
Hugh Greenwood, New Mexico
Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico
Player of the Year: Williams
Defensive Player of the Year: Birch
Freshman of the Year: Bennett
Newcomer of the Year: Iverson
Sixth Man of the Year: Daniel Bejarano, Colorado State
Coach of the Year: Steve Alford, New Mexico