Piot Named B1G Freshman of the Year; Sharp and Johnson Earn Second Team All-B1G
EAST LANSING — Michigan State freshman James Piot has been voted the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, while sophomore Kaleb Johnson and senior Michael Sharp were named to the All-Big Ten second team, it was announced by the conference on Tuesday, May 1.
“I think it’s a testament to three really solid players, but also to guys that showed up and competed every week,” MSU head coach Casey Lubahn said. “These are three players that we knew could achieve these accomplishments and its rewarding to see it happen.”
Piot is the second Spartan in program history and first since Ryan Brehm in 2005 to be named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Piot was in the MSU lineup for all 11 events this season and ranks third on the team with a 73.42 scoring average.
Piot’s best finish of the season came at the Seahawk Intercollegiate in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he tied for sixth place with a 1-over-par 217. His lowest 54-hole hole total came in the final tournament of the fall when he posted a 5-under-par 211. The native of Canton’s lowest round of the year came last Saturday at the Big Ten Championships with a 3-under-par 67. In all, Piot had four top-20 finishes and one in the top 10.
“This is an award we talked about a lot,” Lubahn said. “About a year and a half ago, I told James I thought he could win this award; he believed that and it’s nice to see it come to fruition. By his standards, it wasn’t the best year, but it was a steady year and I give him credit for showing up every week. This year is the start of a big future for him.”
Sharp has been MSU’s most consistent player in 2017-18 with more top-10 finishes (four) than any other Spartan. He ranked second on the team in scoring average at 72.55 and his current career average of 73.97 ranks sixth in program history.
The senior had three top-10 finishes over a span of four tournaments, including: eighth at the Colleton River Collegiate (8-over-par 224); and sixth and both the Seahawk Intercollegiate (1-over-par 217) and Kepler Intercollegiate (1-over-par 214). Sharp’s season best 54-hole mark of 4-under-par 212 at the Bearcat Invitational included his first of two season-best 67s.
Sharp, a native of Kendallville, Indiana, also starred in the classroom as he received the 2018 President’s Award, which goes to the graduating MSU senior student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA.
“Michael is steady and relied upon every week,” Lubahn said. “He developed more as a player than anyone I’ve ever coached. He has added so many shots and improved in every area. He also has a 3.97 GPA, so he’s done very well.”
Johnson and Sharp were the Spartans’ top tournament finishers in 2017-18, as both led MSU on five occasions this past season.
Johnson led the Spartans in average at 72.55 and had three top-5 finishes, including a win at the Inverness Intercollegiate at 8-under-par 142. His win at the Inverness included his first of two 65s on the year, which rank as the second-lowest rounds in program history.
Johnson finished the fall by taking the runner-up spot at the Crooked Stick Invitational at 1-under-par 215, and then third at the Quail Valley Intercollegiate at 12-under-par 204, which tied his career best 54-hole score.
The native of Naples, Florida, took eighth at the Kepler Intercollegiate (2-over-par 215) before leading all Spartans at the Big Ten Championships by claiming 15th (5-over-par 215).
“Kaleb has explosive talent,” Lubahn said. “He can go as low as anybody and his good weeks are as good as anybody in the Big Ten. He’ll just continue to improve.”
Senior Charlie Green was selected as MSU’s winner of the Sportsmanship Award. The students chosen are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, the students must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting.
The Spartans will see if their season will continue when the 81-team NCAA Championships field is announced on Wednesday at 6 p.m. on Golf Channel.
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