East Lansing, Mich. – Michigan State men's basketball junior guard Cassius Winston (Detroit, Mich./University of Detroit Jesuit) was named the Big Ten Player of the Year by the conference's media and coaches, the Big Ten office announced on Monday, March 11. Winston was also one of two unanimous selections to the All-Big Ten First Team.
Junior forward Nick Ward(Gahanna, Ohio/Lincoln) was an All-Big Ten Third Team selection by both the media and the coaches, while redshirt senior forward Kenny Goins(Troy, Mich./Warren Mott) and senior guard Matt McQuaid(Duncanville, Texas/Duncanville) were honorable mention selections by the media and coaches. McQuaid earned a spot on the All-Defensive Team and sophomore forward Xavier Tillman(Grand Rapids, Mich./GR Christian) was named the league's Sixth Man of the Year.
"I'm thrilled for all of our players," Head Coach Tom Izzo said. "For Cassius to be recognized by both the coaches and the media is a real testament to the type of season he had and I am really happy for him. It's great that Nick was recognized for his tremendous season and I'm really happy for two of our veterans, Kenny and Matt, getting recognized for the first time in their careers after the hard work they put in over the years."
Winston, who was named a First Team All-American by the Sporting News on Monday morning, is averaging 19.0 points, 7.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds while shooting 47.1 percent from the floor and 41.3 percent from 3-point land. He ranks fourth in the Big Ten Conference in scoring, while also leading the league and ranking No. 3 in the country, in assists per game. Winston has scored at least 20 points 17 times this year, has six double-doubles in points and assists, has handed out at least 10 assists seven times and has dished out at least six in 25 games.
"It's really a blessing," Winston said. "This is a great honor after all of the hard work that goes into the season and it just means a lot to me. I've got great teammates around me who have supported me and helped to make me the player that I am today. The Big Ten is one of the best conferences in the country and there a lot of great players in this league so that makes it even more special."
Winston is the ninth player from Michigan State to be named Player of the Year and the first since Denzel Valentine in 2016.
He is the only player in the country averaging at least 18.0 points per game, 7.0 assists per game and connecting on at least 40.0 percent of his 3-point attempts this season.
Since 1992-93, Winston is one of only 18 Division I college basketball players to average at least 18.0 points and 7.0 assists per game, including one of three players this year (Ja Morant of Murray State and Colbey Ross of Pepperdine). Among that group of 18 players, which includes Denzel Valentine during the 2015-16 season, Winston is one of just six from a Power Six Conference.
Winston has been named the Big Ten Player of the Week a school record five times this season (Nov. 26, Dec. 31, Jan. 21, Jan. 28 and Feb. 25). He was also named the Most Valuable Player at the Las Vegas Invitational, averaging 19.5 points, 8.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds in wins over UCLA and Texas. In addition, Winston was one of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honorees.
Ward, who was an honorable mention selection by the coaches and a third team media pick last year, is second on the team in scoring with 15.1 points, is third with 6.7 rebounds and has connected on 60.4 percent of his field goals, which ranks fourth in the Big Ten and No. 24 nationally. Ward, who was sidelined the last five games of the regular season, averaged 15.3 points and 7.0 rebounds in conference play.
Goins and McQuaid earned their first All-Big Ten honors with their honorable mention selections.
A redshirt senior, Goins moved into the starting lineup in his final year on campus and has been one of the most valuable players for the Spartans. He is sixth on the team in scoring with 8.3 points, but leads the team with 9.1 rebounds, which is fourth in the Big Ten and No.37 nationally. In conference play, Goins averaged nearly a double-double, with 9.8 points and 9.3.rebounds.
McQuaid, one of the team's co-captains, is fourth on the team in scoring with 9.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He ranks fifth in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage, connecting on 42.7 percent of his shots from long distance (56-of-131). In Big Ten play, McQuaid averaged 10.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists while connecting on 43.0 percent of his 3-point attempts (tied for sixth in the league).
While he came to campus recognized as one of the top shooters in the country, McQuaid has become one of Michigan State's top defensive players. Throughout the 2018-19 season, he was charged with covering the opposition's leading scorer in many games and held that player below his average most times.
Tillman earns his first All-Big Ten honor in being named the Sixth Player of the Year. Overall this season, Tillman is tied for fourth on the team with 9.3 points, second with 7.0 rebounds and leads the team in field goal percentage, connecting on 61.1 percent of his shots. In Big Ten games, he averaged 10.4 points and 6.4 rebounds.
Tillman is the first MSU player to be named Sixth Player of the Year since Draymond Green in 2010.
Michigan State, 25-6 overall and 16-4 in the Big Ten, enters this week's conference tournament as the No. 1 seed. The Spartans play the winner of No. 8 Ohio State and No. 9 Indiana on Friday, March 15 (12:30 p.m. ET) at the United Center in Chicago.
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