NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Villanova's Jalen Brunson (Lincolnshire, Ill.) and Omari Spellman (Cleveland, Ohio) received significant honors Wednesday afternoon from the BIG EAST Conference. Brunson was selected as the BIG EAST Player and Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Spellman is the BIG EAST Freshman of the Year.
Brunson is the second BIG EAST player to sweep those two awards - Connecticut's Emeka Okafor in 2004 is the other. The 6-3 guard -- who was also the preseason choice as conference player of the year -- averaged 19.1 points and 4.8 assists in 2017-18 for the Wildcats (27-4 overall, 14-4 BIG EAST).
This marks the second season in a row that a member of the Wildcats has earned BIG EAST Player of the Year honors and third time in the past five seasons. Ryan Arcidiacono shared the award with Providence's Kris Dunn in 2015 and Josh Hart took home the trophy last March.
"This is an honor," stated Brunson in receiving the awards. He thanked his parents, Rick and Sandra, sister Erica, along with his Villanova teammates and coaching staff. "To me this is a team award because my teammates put me in a position to succeed."
Meanwhile, Spellman, who averaged 10.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in his debut season on the court, became the third VU product to earn the Freshman of the Year honor. Tim Thomas (1997) and Scottie Reynolds (2007) won the award previously.
Also on Wednesday, The Sporting News named Brunson as its National Player of the Year while redshirt junior forward Mikal Bridges was selected as one of five finalists for the Julius Erving Award, presented by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Villanova, which won the 2015 and '17 BIG EAST Tournaments, opens play on Thursday night at 7 p.m. against either Marquette or DePaul.
Xavier's Chris Mack won the BIG EAST Coach of the Year award.
The 2017-18 Villanova Men's Basketball season is presented by KeyBank.