Utah State dominates All-Mountain West awards

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Eli Lucero / The Herald Journal via AP

Utah State guard Sam Merrill (5) drives to the basket as UNR forward Trey Porter (15) and forward Caleb Martin (10) defend during an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Logan, Utah.

Mon, Mar 11, 2019 (1 p.m.)

The All-Mountain West media awards have been announced for the 2018-19 season, and Utah State cleaned up.

Aggies’ junior guard Sam Merrill was named the conference’s Player of the Year after averaging 22.0 points and 4.4 assists per game in 18 MWC contests. Merrill connected on 38 percent of his 3-point attempts while leading Utah State to a surprising share of the league title.

Merrill’s teammate, center Neemias Queta, won Defensive Player of the Year as well as Freshman of the Year honors. Queta led the Mountain West with 2.4 blocks per game, and he also produced on the offensive end, scoring 13.0 points on 63.9-percent shooting.

Coach of the Year also went to Utah State, with first-year head man Craig Smith easily winning the vote. The Aggies were picked ninth in the league’s preseason poll, but Smith led them to a 15-3 record in MWC play (25-6 overall).

For the media awards, each of the 11 Mountain West markets receive one ballot. Merrill received 10 of 11 votes for Player of the Year, with UNR’s Caleb Martin claiming the other vote. Smith got 10 votes for Coach of the Year, with Fresno State’s Justin Hutson receiving a single vote. Queta was a unanimous selection for Freshman of the Year and got six votes for Defensive Player of the Year.

Newcomer of the Year went to Fresno State guard Braxton Huggins, who averaged 19.8 points after transferring from New Mexico State. UNR guard Jazz Johnson was chosen as the 6th Man of the Year.

For the All-Mountain West teams, voters ranked their choices from 1-15, regardless of position. Merrill and Martin were the top two vote-getters (162 and 148 points, respectively). UNR forward Jordan Caroline (147), Colorado State center Nico Carvacho (112) and Wyoming guard Justin James (110) rounded out the rest of the first team.

Two UNLV players were honored, as senior guards Kris Clyburn and Noah Robotham earned spots on the All-MWC third team.

The All-Mountain West media vote is conducted independently of the league. The Mountain West's official awards are voted on by the conference's coaches; those results will be announced on Tuesday.

The full results of the All-MWC teams:

First team

Sam Merrill, Utah State

Caleb Martin, UNR

Jordan Caroline, UNR

Nico Carvacho, Colorado State

Justin James, Wyoming

Second team

Braxton Huggins, Fresno State

Deshon Taylor, Fresno State

Jalen McDaniels, San Diego State

Neemias Queta, Utah State

Cody Martin, UNR

Third team

Lavelle Scottie, Air Force

Nate Grimes, Fresno State

Devin Watson, San Diego State

Kris Clyburn, UNLV

Justinian Jessup, Boise State

Noah Robotham, UNLV

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at twitter.com/mikegrimala.

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