March 10, 2009
NEW YORK, N.Y.—Pitt sophomore DeJuan Blair became just the third men’s basketball player in school history to earn Big East Player of the Year accolades Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. Blair, who was presented with the trophy at the conference’s awards press conference, shared the Big East Player of the Year award with Connecticut’s Hasheem Thabeet.
Pitt’s other two Big East player of the Year honorees include Charles Smith (1987-88) and Brandin Knight (2001-02).
A National Player of the Year candidate, the only unanimous All-Big East First Team selection and USBWA District Player of the Year honoree, Blair averages 15.6 points per game and a league-leading 12.4 rebounds per game. He has posted two 20-20 performances on the season (vs. Notre Dame and vs. Connecticut), totaled 17 double-double games, scored 20 or more points in 10 contests and grabbed 10 or more rebounds in 20 games. He ranks among national leaders in offensive rebounding (1st), total rebounding (4th) and field goal percentage (16th). He also set the school record for most rebounds over a two-game stretch with 41 (23 vs. UConn, 18 vs. DePaul), surpassing the previous two-game record of 38 set by Jerome Lane in 1987-88. Blair currently ranks among school season leaders in field goal percentage (second), rebounds (fifth), rebound average (seventh), offensive rebounds (second) and defensive rebounds (fifth).
In his two-year career, Blair has scored 898 points (13.4 ppg.), pulled down 709 rebounds (10.6 rpg.) and shot 56.7 percent (363-540) from the floor. Last year, he capped his freshman season at Pitt by earning consensus Freshman All-America honors, the co-Big East Player of the Year award, Big East All-Rookie Team accolades and All-Big East honorable mention honors.
The six-foot-seven-inch Pittsburgh, Pa. native has helped guided Pitt to a 28-3 record, second place finish in the Big East regular season with a 15-3 slate and the program’s first-ever No. 1 ranking in three different weeks this year. Pitt also went an undefeated 19-0 at home, won its first 16 games to start the season and defeated the nation’s No. 1 ranked team on two occasions.
Earlier today, Blair was also named the United States Basketball Writers Association District 2 Player of the Year. Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon was selected as the District 2 Coach of the Year and Blair, along with senior teammates Levance Fields and Sam Young, all earned All-District Team accolades.
With a double bye, No. 2 ranked Pitt opens Big East Championship play on Thursday when it takes on either No. 7 West Virginia, No. 10 Notre Dame or No. 15 Rutgers. Tipoff is a 7 p.m. on ESPN.
BIG EAST AWARD WINNERS
Player of the Year
DeJuan Blair, Pitt
Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut
Rookie of the Year
Greg Monroe, Georgetown
Oppenheimer Coach of the Year
Jay Wright, Villanova
Defensive Player of the Year
Most Improved Player
Dante Cunningham, Villanova
Sixth Man Award
Corey Fisher, Villanova
Alex Ruoff, West Virginia
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