Bowling Green, Ky. — Already a two-time first-team all-Sun Belt Conference selection entering his final year at Western Kentucky University, Courtney Lee picked up his first postseason honor Tuesday when he was named the league’s 2008 Player of the Year.
The senior guard/forward was also chosen first-team all-conference again, while fellow senior Tyrone Brazelton was selected second-team all-Sun Belt. Voting was conducted among the league’s 13 head coaches and selected media members.
Lee is the third Hilltopper to be named SBC Player of the Year in the last five seasons, joining Mike Wells (2004) and former teammate Anthony Winchester (2006). He’s also just the second WKU player to earn first-team all-Sun Belt honors three times, after Chris Robinson first accomplished the feat from 1994-96.
A three-time league Player-of-the-Week selection who earned those honors nationally from Rivals.com on one occasion, Lee is among the top 100 in the country in scoring (25th), field-goal percentage (98th) and free-throw percentage (100th) — in addition to ranking in the top 15 in the SBC in those categories, he is also among the league leaders in steals, three-point field goals per game and three-point field-goal percentage. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound native of Indianapolis, Ind., leads the Hilltoppers with 20.9 points per outing and 53 steals, and he is shooting 50 percent overall, 39.3 percent from beyond the arc and 81.6 percent at the foul line. He is also second on the squad with 4.5 rebounds per game and 19 blocks, and ranks third with 65 assists.
Lee has scored 20 or more points in 17 contests — he actually became the first Topper since Darnell Mee in 1992-93 to post three 30-point games — while scoring in double digits in 28 of WKU’s 30 regular-season outings. He’s led the team in scoring 24 times this winter, pacing all players in 21 of those games, while topping the squad in steals on 13 occasions, blocks seven times, rebounding in six contests and four times in assists.
One of six players in the country to score 2,000 or more points in a career, he stands second in the school record books and is fourth in conference history with 2,130 entering the postseason. Lee is also seventh all-time in steals and 10th in three-point field goals in the league’s 30-plus years of existence.
Lee was joined on the first team by Demetric Bennett of South Alabama, New Orleans’ Bo McCalebb, Carlos Monroe of Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee’s Desmond Yates. McCalebb was chosen the Defensive Player of the Year, while a pair of players from North Texas — Collin Dennis and Josh White — were named the Newcomer and Freshman of the Year, respectively. South Alabama’s Ronnie Arrow was voted Coach of the Year.
A 6-foot-1, 180-pound guard from Chicago, Ill., Brazelton is the only other Topper averaging in double figures with 13.1 points per game, which is among the top 20 in the SBC. He has 112 assists, ranking third in the conference with 3.73 per outing, and is sixth in the league with a 1.40 assist-to-turnover ratio. And, Brazelton is shooting 44.7 percent from the floor and 40.8 percent from three-point range — both are career-high figures, as he is eighth in the Sun Belt in the latter category.
Brazelton, who has converted 51 three-pointers this winter, set a school record when he made nine in a 94-90 victory at Troy Dec. 29 to open league play, finishing that contest with a career-best 29 points.
He led the Hilltoppers in assists in 20 of their 30 regular-season games, pacing all players in the category on 13 occasions. He’s also topped the team in steals nine times — Brazelton has 28 total thefts on the year, including three outings with three in WKU’s last five contests — and in scoring in six games. In fact, he has recorded 20 or more points seven times.
WKU will be the third seed at the conference tournament, as it earned a first-round bye after posting a 16-2 mark in league action on the way to sharing the East Division championship. The Hilltoppers will take on the winner of Wednesday’s contest between sixth-seeded North Texas and No. 11 seed Arkansas State Sunday at 9 p.m. (CST) in Mobile, Ala.
Sun Belt Conference All-Conference Men’s Basketball Team
Carlos Monroe (Florida Atlantic, Jr., F) - leads Sun Belt in rebounding (9.3 rpg.), ranks 6th in scoring (15.6 ppg.)
Desmond Yates (Middle Tennessee, So., F) – ranks 5th in scoring (15.8 ppg.), 3rd in FG percentage (57.0%)
Bo McCalebb (New Orleans, Sr., G) – leads conference in scoring (23.2 ppg.) and steals per game (2.4)
Demetric Bennett (South Alabama, Sr., G) – ranks 3rd in scoring (19.9 ppg.) and 2nd in minutes (34.87 mpg.)
Courtney Lee (WKU, Sr., G/F) - ranks 2nd in scoring (20.9 ppg.) and 4th in steals per game (1.77)
Collin Dennis (North Texas, Jr., G) – ranks 4th in 3-point shooting (44.0%), ranks T-9th in scoring (14.0 ppg.)
Josh White (North Texas, Fr., G) – leads conference in 3-point pct. (44.7%), ranks T-9th in scoring (14.0 ppg.)
Daon Merritt (South Alabama, Sr., G) – leads conference in assists per game (5.5)
O’Darien Bassett (Troy, Sr., G) – ranks 4th in conference in scoring (18.3 ppg.)
Tyrone Brazelton (WKU, Sr., G) – ranks 3rd in conference in assists per game (3.73)
Ryan Wedel (Arkansas State, So., G) - leads the conference in 3-point field goals made per game (3.03)
Alex Galindo (Florida International, Jr., F) – ranks 5th in conference in rebounding (6.8 rpg.)
Russell Hicks (Florida International, Jr., C) – ranks 8th in conference in rebounding (6.1 rpg.)
Brandon Davis (South Alabama, Jr., F) – leads conference in field goal percentage (63.5%)
Domonic Tilford (South Alabama, Jr., G) – ranks 2nd in conference if free throw percentage (87.9%)
Player of the Year
Courtney Lee (WKU, Sr., G/F)
Defensive Player of the Year
Bo McCalebb (New Orleans, Sr., G)
Newcomer of the Year
Collin Dennis (North Texas, Jr., G)
Freshman of the Year
Josh White (North Texas, Fr., G)
Coach of the Year
Ronnie Arrow, South Alabama