Pair of Wildcats Earn Big East Recognition



Pair of Wildcats Earn Big East Recognition

Mike Keeley

For the second year in a row, a Wildcat has been named BIG EAST Player of the Year.

On Wednesday, junior guard Jalen Brunson was awarded conference player of the year, a year after Josh Hart took home the honor in 2017. Behind a team leading 19.0 points per game and conference leading +2.9 assist/turnover ratio, Brunson truly proved his credentials to the conference’s coaches this year.

However, despite his name on the plaque, Brunson stressed that player of the year is a team award.

“It’s a credit to my teammates,” Brunson said. “They’ve put me in a position to be successful. It shows how great our team basketball is.”

Along with the Player of the Year Award, Brunson earned a spot on the All-Conference First Team and was named the Big East Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Brunson, who will receive a $2,000 scholarship in conjunction with this award, earned the title of Scholar-Athlete of the Year behind a 3.34 GPA in Communication and a degree he will earn this summer, after only six semesters on campus.

As one of only two players in Big East history to win both conference Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year in the same season, Brunson stressed how much work has gone into balancing his obligations academically and athletically, crediting his parents and the support staff at the University.

“I have to thank the administrative staff at Villanova, I thank my mom especially for pushing me off the court,” Brunson said.

Adding to the accolades for Villanova, freshman forward Omari Spellman took home Big East Freshman of the Year. Currently leading all Big East freshmen in scoring with 10.9 points per game and ranked fourth in rebounding among all players with 7.8 rebounds per game, Spellman received all nine possible votes from opposing Big East head coaches.

Despite his deserving credentials, Spellman was humbled by the recognition by the award.

“Honestly it’s just an honor to be recognized,” he said. “They could have given it to anyone.”          

For his part, Wildcats’ head coach Jay Wright was thankful that his players received the public recognition that they deserved.

“It’s really nice to see these guys being honored because all of them have been very unselfish and committed to their teammates,” Wright said. “To see guys that are unselfish and committed to their team be honored individually is really special.”