UNLV basketball:

Bennett gets first team; other Rebels honored by the Mountain West

Anthony Marshall, Khem Birch and Bennett all earn distinctions. New Mexico took the top awards

Image

Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV forward Anthony Bennett dunks on San Diego State during their game Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013. UNLV won the game 72-70 to sweep the regular season series.

Despite struggling through a shoulder injury down the stretch, UNLV's Anthony Bennett ends his freshman regular season with multiple Mountain West honors. And he’s got some Rebel company.

Bennett was named to the all-Mountain West first team and also received Freshman of the Year honors, one of three Rebels to earn multiple distinctions when the league announced its year-end awards Monday evening.

“It means a lot, people noticing my hard work,” Bennett said. “Before the season I wrote down some goals and I accomplished it.”

That list included both first team and Freshman of the Year honors. There are more items to check off but Bennett declined to share any.

“Hopefully I can get them,” he said.

Joining him are senior Anthony Marshall, who picked up second team and all-defense honors for the second consecutive season, and sophomore Khem Birch, who was named the Defensive Player of the Year and received enough team votes to be an honorable mention.

Marshall didn’t hide the fact he thought he deserved first team recognition.

“I’m kind of disappointed, it puts a chip on my shoulder,” he said, “but at the same time I’m more focused on our team winning games and winning the conference title this week.”

After winning the Mountain West by multiple games, New Mexico took home plenty of big awards, too. Guard Kendall Williams made the first team and is the league’s Player of the Year, beating out defending champ Jamaal Franklin, who also made the first team for San Diego State this season. Franklin, Williams and Bennett are joined on the first team by Colorado State’s Colton Iverson, the Newcomer of the Year, and Air Force’s Michael Lyons.

New Mexico also took home a second team combined with all-defense (Alex Kirk), a third team (Tony Snell), two honorable mentions (Hugh Greenwood and Cameron Bairstow), and Steve Alford was named the Coach of the Year. New Mexico and Colorado State tied for the most representatives (three) on the three teams, though the Lobos win five to four including honorable mentions.

Bennett is the first Rebel to win Freshman of the Year since Dalron Johnson shared it in 2000 and the first to win it outright since Kaspars Kambala in 1998. Birch is the first UNLV Defensive Player of the Year since Joel Anthony in 2007. This is the second straight year that UNLV has one player on the first team, one on the second and two on all-defense. Last year it was Mike Moser (first team) and Marshall filling out the roles.

Here are all the honorees:

First Team

Kendall Williams, New Mexico

Michael Lyons, Air Force

Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State

Anthony Bennett, UNLV

Colton Iverson, Colorado State

Second Team

Dorian Green, Colorado State

Anthony Drmic, Boise State

Derrick Marks, Boise State

Anthony Marshall, UNLV

Alex Kirk, New Mexico

Third Team

Deonte Burton, UNR

Chase Tapley, San Diego State

Tony Snell, New Mexico

Pierce Hornung, Colorado State

Leonard Washington, Wyoming

Honorable Mention

Khem Birch, UNLV

Wes Eikmeier, Colorado State

Tyler Johnson, Fresno State

Malik Story, UNR

Hugh Greenwood, New Mexico

Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico

All-Defense

Birch

Marshall

Washington

Hornung

Kirk

Player of the Year: Williams

Defensive Player of the Year: Birch

Freshman of the Year: Bennett

Newcomer of the Year: Iverson

Sixth Man of the Year: Daniel Bejarano, Colorado State

Coach of the Year: Steve Alford, New Mexico

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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  1. Why is there a first, second, and third team? Don't you think that two is enough? Secondly, how did Anthony Marshall not make the first team? He lead the conference in assists per game. Without Marshall at point, I think the Rebels would have a hard time making the tournament.

    I think the defensive selections were more than fair.

  2. The team in the Mountain West Conference that is from Reno, is known athletically as Nevada and not UNR as you have typed. The MWC release that was cut and pasted in this story identifies Malik Story and Deonte Burton as both playing for Nevada. Why the petty change to UNR?

  3. If UNR is so worried about being called Nevada, why have they not bothered to change thier website in all these years. You can call a pile of manure landscaping, but it doesn't change what it is.

  4. Louis,
    It is acceptable to call the educational aspect of the University UNR. The athletics portion of the school is Nevada. I do not know why you need to hurl insults. Check out the University of California, Berkley's website. There athletics are known as California, and there website is berkley.edu

  5. Picking Anthony Bennett over AMarshall for first team is a joke. Bennett was absolutely terrific in non-conference and has been a complete enigma this entire conference season. AM has been a complete player on both ends of the floor. I think A Beast has some wonderful potential but he has been maybe our 4th or 5th best player the last month or so. Would love to see him re-emerge the rest of the way. He has really been a disappointment to me during MWC play.

  6. UNR fans should stick to reading about their team in the Reno Gazette, instead of trolling the Las Vegas Sun looking for instances of imagined disrespect to their beloved moniker.

    All of the complaining in the world will never get me or any other true UNLV fan (or Alumnus) to stop calling them "UNR". If ESPN wants to call them "Nevada", it's fine with me. The Sun is just reflecting the attitude of the local fans, as they should.

    It was a tough call for guards on the 1st team. Franklin and Lyons were each very important to their teams, but Marshall has really been the motor that's made UNLV go all season and probably should have beaten one of them out for 1st team. I'd rather The Mayor win a MWC championship and make a run at the Sweet 16 and beyond than get 1st team All-MWC honors anyway.

    There are no more "freshmen" this time of the year. AB has had almost a whole season of experience and it's time to step up and prove he deserved 1st team All-MWC, injured or not.

  7. Lock of the year- taking Air Force today +10. What a joke. I don't think the Rebels have covered more than 5 times all year. I doubt they even win this game, let alone cover.

  8. You are right Tim, Nevada fans that live in Las Vegas, should not read the local papers. Great point.