COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Mountain West announced its 2013-14 men's basketball awards today. The league's 11 men's head coaches, along with a select media panel, picked the All-Conference teams, as well as the coach, player, newcomer, freshman, sixth man and defensive honors.
San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher earned MW Coach of the Year honors, while the Aztecs' Xavier Thames was selected as the Player of the Year. Additionally, UNLV junior forward Khem Birch garnered Defensive Player of the Year accolades for the second consecutive season, while Fresno State guard/forward Paul Watson was recognized as the Freshman of the Year. San Diego State teammates Josh Davis and Dwayne Polee II were chosen as the Newcomer and Sixth Man of the Year, respectively.
Four student-athletes are repeat selections to the All-Conference list in 2013-14, while the remaining 11 make their first appearance on the team. New Mexico's Kendall Williams is the only three-time All-MW honoree among the group, earning first-team accolades for the second straight year following a second-team selection in 2011-12.
Fisher received his third MW coaching award after leading the Aztecs to their fourth Mountain West regular-season crown. San Diego State, picked to finish fourth in the league's preseason poll, amassed a 16-2 record in Conference play in 2013-14.
Thames, a 6-3, 195-pound senior guard, ranked among league leaders in six different categories for Conference-only games in 2013-14. The Sacramento, Calif., native led the league in steals (1.7), and was third in free throw shooting (.846), fifth in scoring (17.8), sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.6), seventh in field goal percentage (.401) and ninth in assists (3.2). The Aztecs' leading scorer netted double figures in 15 of 18 MW contests this season, including seven 20-point outings. He dished out three or more assists in 10 games, and finished with 10 turnover-free performances against MW opponents.
Birch, a 6-9, 220-pound junior forward from Montreal, Quebec, matched a league record with 69 blocked shots this season in Conference play, tying Wyoming's Justin Williams (2005-06). He averaged 3.8 rejections per game en route to setting the MW junior class record for most blocks in a season of league competition. Birch registered at least one block in each of the 18 MW contests, including 11 outings with four or more. His nine-block performance at Utah State on Feb. 15 set a MW junior class single-game record for most against a Conference opponent, while tying for third in league play overall. Offensively, Birch contributed 11.9 points per game, while adding a 10.6 rebounding average. He is the third player in MW history to receive back-to-back MW Defensive Player of the Year honors (UNLV's Marcus Banks, 2001-03; Wyoming's Justin Williams, 2004-06).
Davis, a 6-8, 215-pound senior forward, opened league play with seven straight double-figure rebounding games and finished with eight overall to rank fourth among MW leaders with a 9.1 average on the glass. He pulled down no fewer than four rebounds in each of the 17 Conference games he played. A product of Raleigh, N.C., Davis also contributed a 7.4 scoring average in league action, tallying six double-digit performances, including a season-high 14 points vs. UNLV on Jan. 18.
Watson, a 6-7, 187-pound guard/forward, started all 18 MW contests for the Bulldogs this season. He was the league's top freshman rebounder with 4.6 boards per game, and ranked second among MW freshmen in scoring (8.6) and blocked shots (12). The Phoenix, Ariz., native scored in double figures in seven Conference games, including a season-high 20 points at Utah State on Feb. 22.
Polee, a 6-7, 195-pound junior forward, averaged 6.7 points and 2.9 rebounds off the bench for the Aztecs in Conference play in 2013-14. Hailing from Los Angeles, Calif., Polee shot 42.6 percent (43-of-101) from the field, including 30.2 percent (13-of-43) from 3-point range, while also tallying 23 steals, 10 blocks and nine assists. He averaged 16.9 minutes of play in Conference action.
2013-14 ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM
(Selected by media and head coaches)
First-Team All-Mountain West
Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico Sr. F 6-9 250 Brisbane, Australia
Deonte Burton, Nevada* Sr. G 6-1 190 Los Angeles, Calif.
Kendall Williams, New Mexico** Sr. G 6-4 180 Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Xavier Thames, San Diego State Sr. G 6-3 195 Sacramento, Calif.
Larry Nance Jr., Wyoming Jr. F 6-8 225 Akron, Ohio
Honorable Mention All-Mountain West
Derrick Marks, Jr., G, Boise State
Marvelle Harris, So., G, Fresno State
Cole Huff, So., F, Nevada
Hugh Greenwood, Jr., G, New Mexico
JJ O'Brien, Jr., F, San Diego State
Winston Shepard, So., F, San Diego State
Roscoe Smith, Jr., F, UNLV
Spencer Butterfield, Sr., G/F, Utah State
Jarred Shaw, Sr., C, Utah State