NEW YORK – For the second straight year, Creighton junior Khyri Thomas has earned BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year honors. Seton Hall sophomore guard Myles Powell has been named BIG EAST Most Improved Player. Villanova sophomore Donte DiVincenzo has been chosen for the BIG EAST Sixth Man Award and Butler senior Tyler Wideman was named the winner of the BIG EAST Sportsmanship Award. The league’s head coaches choose the award winners and they are not permitted to vote for their own players.
The BIG EAST will announce the remaining individual awards: Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Freshman of the Year and outstanding Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete at a press conference at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, March 7, at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Thomas, a 6-3 guard, has been a versatile defender who ranks third in the BIG EAST in steals in conference play with a 1.7 average. He has grabbed 98 defensive rebounds from his backcourt position. Thomas is averaging 15.5 points. On Sunday, he was named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team. Thomas has helped lead the Bluejays to a 21-10 overall record and a 10-8 league mark going into this week’s BIG EAST Tournament. Last year, he shared the award with Villanova’s Mikal Bridges and Josh Hart. Thomas is just the 10th player in league history to win Defensive Player of the Year honors more than once.
Powell has gone from a respectable contributor as a freshman to an important player on a senior-laden Seton Hall team as a sophomore. This season, the 6-2 guard is second on the team in scoring with a 15.6 average and is sixth in the BIG EAST with 86 made 3-pointers. In league games, his scoring average rises to 16.5. He has scored in double figures in 28 of 31 games this season. Last year, Powell came off the bench and averaged 10.7 points.
Villanova’s DiVincenzo has made key contributions toward the Wildcat success that includes a 27-4 overall record and a 14-4 BIG EAST mark. Normally the first player off the bench, he is third on the team in scoring with a 13.8 average, fourth in rebounding at 4.6 and ranks 10th in the league in assist/turnover ratio at +1.8. He scored a career-high 30 points in an 86-75 win at Butler on Feb. 10.
Wideman has been an exemplary performer for Butler on and off the court. Off the court, the senior forward has been an intern at a local Jewish Community Center, working with preschool kids, retirees and Special Olympians. He is also a middle school coach and volunteers with teammates to conduct basketball clinics for children with special needs. On the court, Wideman is averaging 9.4 points and 5.2 rebounds. He ranks first in the BIG EAST in field goal shooting, making 66.9 percent.
BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year
Khyri Thomas, Creighton
BIG EAST Most Improved Player
Myles Powell, Seton Hall
BIG EAST Sixth Man Award
Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova
BIG EAST Sportsmanship Award
Tyler Wideman, Butler