SAN ANTONIO, Texas– On the eve of the NCAA Division I championship men’s basketball game, the stars of the season were honored by the National Association of Basketball Coaches at its annual NABC Guardians of the Game awards show Sunday evening at the Lila Cockrell Theater in San Antonio.
Villanova University’s Jalen Brunson took top honors as the NABC Player of the Year while University of Virginia head coach Tony Bennett was named the NABC Division I Coach of the Year. Jevon Carter of West Virginia University earned the NABC Defensive Player of the Year Award for the second straight season and Duke University’s Marvin Bagley III took home a pair of awards as the NABC Freshman of the Year and the Pete Newell Big Man of the Year.
2018 NABC Player of the Year – Jalen Brunson, Villanova
A consensus first team All-America, Brunson led the Wildcats in scoring (19.2 ppg) and assists (176) while shooting 53 percent from the floor, 81 percent from the free throw line and 41 percent of his three-point attempts. He had a season-high 31 points four times this season including road games at Temple, Butler and Marquette and against Providence in the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden.
The junior guard scored 18 points with two rebounds and six assists in Saturday’s 95-79 NCAA® semifinal win over Kansas. Brunson will lead the Wildcats, with a 35-4 won-lost record, when they face off with Michigan on Monday night in the NCAA championship game at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
2018 NABC Coach of the Year – Tony Bennett, Virginia
After leading the University of Virginia to the ACC regular-season title, ACC Tournament championship, school-record 31 wins and first No. 1 ranking since 1982, Tony Bennett has been selected as the 2018 NABC Division I Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
This season, Virginia (31-3) was picked sixth in the ACC in the preseason and was unranked in the national preseason polls. But under Bennett, the Cavaliers nearly swept their conference schedule (17-1) while earning a third outright ACC regular-season title in the last five seasons and third ACC Tournament title in school history. Bennett guided UVA to its first No. 1 ranking since 1982 and the Cavaliers became only the fourth team in the Top-25 era (1990-present) to earn a No. 1 ranking after being unranked in the preseason (Kansas, 1990; Syracuse, 2010; and Baylor, 2017).
Bennett is 219-86 (.718) in nine seasons at Virginia and 288-119 (.708) in 12 seasons overall. He has guided the Cavaliers to a school-best seven straight 20-win seasons and five straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Bennett has recorded a school-record six straight seasons with 23-or-more wins, as well as a school-record six straight seasons with 11 or more ACC wins.
This is the first NABC Coach of the Year honor for Bennett.
2018 NABC Defensive Player of the Year – Jevon Carter, West Virginia
Carter captured the NABC Defensive Player of the Year award for the second straight season. A NABC Coaches’ All-America third team selection, the senior guard from Maywood, Ill., he was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year for the second year and a unanimous All Big 12 first team selection.
The 6-2, 205-pound guard is the fifth Division I player to score more than 1,500 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists and 300 steals in a career. He holds the WVU record for steals in a season (112) and career (330) as well as assist in a season (246). This season Carter was the only player in the country to average 17 points, six assists and three steals per game.
He was the CoSIDA Academic All-American of the year for men’s basketball and earned Academic All-Big 12 first team honors for three ears in a row.
2018 NABC Freshman of the Year and 2018 Pete Newell Big Man of the Year – Marvin Bagley III, Duke
A consensus first team All-America, Bagley was a complete player for the Blue Devils this season, averaging 21 points per game and 11.1 rebounds with 29 blocks, 27 steals and 50 assists.
He became just the second player in the 65-year history of the Atlantic Coast Conference to earn player of the year and rookie of the year honors. The 6-11, 245-pound freshman forward from Phoenix, Arizona led Duke to the NCAA Elite Eight and a 29-8 won-lost record. He scored 16 points with 10 rebounds in Duke’s season-ending overtime loss to Kansas.