Luke Nevill became the first player in league history to be named both the Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.
March 9, 2009
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - University of Utah senior center Luke Nevill has been voted the 2009 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year, the league office announced Monday. Nevill was also named the MWC Defensive Player of the Year and is one of six Utes to earn conference accolades.
Nevill, a 7-2, 265-pound native of Perth, Australia, is the first individual in conference history to receive both the MWC Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season. He averaged 16.7 points per game in conference play and was the league's top rebounder and shot blocker in league action, averaging 9.6 boards and 3.1 blocks per game while leading the Utes to a share of their fifth MWC regular-season crown. His 50 blocks in MWC games ranks as the third-most in a single season.
A first-team All-MWC selection for the first time in his career, Nevill also earned an appointment to the inaugural MWC All-Defensive Team. Joining him on the All-Defensive squad is senior guard Lawrence Borha, who earned third-team All-MWC honors. Senior forward Shaun Green also captured a first-time distinction, earning the conference's first-ever Sixth Man of the Year Award.
"We had a very successful season as a team which has resulted in our individuals winning postseason awards," said Utah head coach Jim Boylen. "I am very proud of all these guys. I'm proud of Luke's commitment to winning basketball, of Lawrence's development as a player and a winner, and Shaun's willingness to sacrifice and come off the bench in order to help us win. They all created a great example for everyone of how to play as a team and play for each other."
Green averaged 10.6 points and 5.3 rebounds off the bench for the Utes in Conference play. In addition to ranking sixth and seventh, respectively, in 3-point field goal shooting (.416) and average (2.3 pg), Salt Lake City native was also among the MWC's top shot-blockers, ranking sixth with a 1.0 average against league opponents.
"I think it is great to these guys recognized for their hard work and sacrifice this year," said Boylen. "Every one of them played a key role in our success so far and will have to keep contributing if we hope to have more success in the postseason."
Kepkay, who also received consideration for the Sixth Man award, tied with Green as the Utes' third-leading (10.6 ppg). The Vancouver, B.C. native plays the third-most minutes on the team, logging 30.5 per contest, and has come off the bench to score 20 points or more four times this year. He posted a career-high 27 points at Colorado State, propelling the Utes to an 89-79 OT victory.
Brown (102) and Drca (90) lead the team in assists, ranking sixth and eighth in the MWC, respectively.
The Utes' fifth-leading scorer at 9.4 points per game, Brown is also the second-leading rebounder at 5.2 boards per contest. He has also become Utah's human highlight reel, wowing crowds both home and away with high-flying dunks and game-changing plays. Brown has been selected for ESPN SportsCenter's Top Plays on three occasions, hitting the No. 1 highlight with his dunk over TCU's Kevin Langford on Feb. 4. Brown's dunk over Oklahoma's All-America candidate Blake Griffin was the No. 2 Top Play on Jan. 13.
Drca ranks sixth on the squad in scoring (7.9 ppg) and is second on the team in steals (29), while also contributing 2.6 rebounds per game.
Utah is the No. 2 seed for the 2009 Conoco Mountain West Conference Championship, March 11-14 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The Runnin' Utes play their first game of the tournament Thursday, March 12, as they face No. 7 seed TCU at 6 p.m. PT.