Denzel Valentine Voted Team MVP

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Denzel Valentine was voted Team MVP by both the media and his teammates and seven different MSU players were recognized on Monday night as Michigan State held its annual Men’s Basketball Awards Banquet for the 2015-16 season.

For Valentine, it is his second-straight season earning MVP honors, after sharing the media vote with Branden Dawson in 2015. Valentine is having a historic season, as he is on pace to become the first player to average 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists since the NCAA first recognized the assist as an official stat in 1983-84. He currently leads the Big Ten in overall scoring (19.6 ppg) and assists (7.5 apg), looking to be the first Big Ten player to do that since Iowa’s Andre Woolridge in 1997. He also ranks second on the team and seventh in the Big Ten at 7.5 boards per contest.

Valentine also received the Antonio Smith Glue and Guts Award for the second-straight season. He is the unquestioned leader of the team and showed true grit in bouncing back from minor knee surgery that forced him to miss four games in the middle of the season. He averaged 18.5 points 8.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists as MSU won its first 12 games of the season. Since returning from injury, he’s elevated his game, averaging 20.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 7.8 assists in the last 15 games.

Matt Costello was the recipient of the Jumping Johnny Green Chairman of the Boards Award after leading the Big Ten with 10.1 rebounds per game in conference games. Costello was also co-recipient of the Most Improved Player Award. He is averaging 10.5 points and 8.5 rebounds, including 12.5 points and 10.1 rebounds in Big Ten action. Entering his senior season, he had never averaged more than 7.0 points or 5.2 rebounds in a season. Forbes shared the Most Improved honor after nearly doubling his scoring average from 8.5 points as a junior to 15.1 points as a senior. In eight fewer games this season, Forbes has made 34 more made 3-pointers.

Eron Harris was awarded the John E. Benington Best Defensive Player Award. He transferred to MSU with the reputation of being a terrific offensive player, but he’s taken pride in his defense this season, often defending the opposing team’s top perimeter player. As a team, the Spartans led the Big Ten in field-goal percentage defense and ranked third in 3-point field-goal percentage defense in conference games.

Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr. earned the Stephen G. Scofes Inspirational Player Award for the second straight season. Despite playing all season with plantar fasciitis, Nairn missed just seven games, while ranking among the national leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio (7th, 3.78).

Red-shirt junior Colby Wollenman received the Scholar-Athlete Award for the third-consecutive season and was also voted the winner of the Unsung Player Award for the second-straight season. Wollenman, a physiology (pre-med) major who carries a 3.98 cumulative GPA, was named to the Capital One Academic All-District 5 men’s basketball team and has appeared in 28 games for MSU, averaging 1.1 points and 1.4 rebounds per contest.

Rounding out the honorees was Matt Van Dyk as recipient of the Tim Bograkos Walk-On Award. Van Dyk averaged 1.0 points in 19 games. His alley-oop dunk off the backboard pass from Alvin Ellis III against Ohio State made the ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 plays. It’s the second-straight year Van Dyk has been honored, having shared the 2015 award with Trevor Bohnhoff.

2016 Michigan State Men’s Basketball Banquet Award Winners

Most Valuable Player (Team Vote): Denzel Valentine

Most Valuable Player (Media Vote): Denzel Valentine

Scholar-Athlete Award: Colby Wollenman

Unsung Player Award: Colby Wollenman

Tim Bograkos Walk-On Award: Matt Van Dyk

Most Improved Player Award: Bryn Forbes, Matt Costello

John E. Benington Best Defensive Player Award: Eron Harris

Stephen G. Scofes Inspirational Player Award: Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr.

Antonio Smith Glue and Guts Award: Denzel Valentine

Jumping Johnny Green Chairman of the Boards Award: Matt Costello

Senior Manager Award: Ryan Nadeau, Andrew Novak