Bowling Green, Ky. — Two individuals earned multiple honors and three awards had repeat winners at the annual year-end banquet to honor the 2006-07 Western Kentucky University basketball team Tuesday at E.A. Diddle Arena.
Freshman Jeremy Evans picked up both Tom Marshall Rebounder of the Year and Bobby Rascoe Defensive Player of the Year honors, while sophomore Orlando Mendez-Valdez was presented the John Oldham Most Improved Player and Darel Carrier Free-Throw Accuracy Awards.
Courtney Lee was once again named the Clem Haskins Most Valuable Player, Ty Rogers earned the Dixie Mahurin Academic Award for the third time in as many seasons and Adam Howard was presented the Danny Rumph Outstanding Teammate Award.
Evans, a native of Crossett, Ark., ranked among the leaders in the Sun Belt Conference with 5.7 rebounds and 1.38 blocks per game, adding 19 steals in his first year on the Hill in collecting a pair of honors. Mendez-Valdez saw his scoring average increase from 2.8 to 9.4 points per contest — he ranked third on the team in scoring despite not starting a game — while recording 60 more assists and 28 more rebounds than he collected his freshman season. And, the San Antonio, Texas, resident shot 86.3 percent at the foul line.
Lee was the team’s leading scorer with 17.3 points per outing, and he also grabbed 4.6 boards per game to go along with 57 assists, 45 steals and 23 blocks. The junior from Indianapolis, Ind., was a first-team all-Sun Belt selection for the second year in a row, and he was a first-team National Association of Basketball Coaches all-district choice.
Rogers, who hails from Eddyville, Ky., was named first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District IV for the first time in his career during the season. On the court, he averaged a career-best 8.9 points per contest and led WKU with 65 three-point field goals. An Ashland, Ky., native, Howard was recognized by his teammates for his work in practice as well as his 10 appearances off the bench in the regular season. That included two games in which the junior saw first-half action while the shorthanded Toppers played without the services of Lee.
For their efforts on the court, juniors Tyrone Brazelton and Boris Siakam earned the Dwight Smith Playmaker of the Year and Ralph Crosthwaite Field-Goal Accuracy Awards, respectively. A resident of Park Forest, Ill., Brazelton led the team with 131 assists — the eighth-highest season total in school history — while ranking fourth in the league with 3.97 per game in his first season on the Hill. Siakam, who hails from Douala, Cameroon, shot 74.6 percent overall this year, including 10 contests in which he did not miss a shot.
The E.A. Diddle Award was presented to Butch Jointer, the lone senior on the squad at the end of the season. The award is given to the player who best displays leadership, character, loyalty, ability and love of fellow man, which was initiated by the Bowling Green Civitan Club in 1971 in honor of the Hilltoppers’ legendary coach. Jointer, a 6-foot-4 Nicholasville, Ky., resident who played mostly in the post, averaged career highs with 3.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per outing.
Bryan O’Neill, who concluded his third season as an intern on the WKU basketball staff, was given the Jones Family Appreciation Award.
The Toppers recorded their third-straight 20-win season last year, going 22-11 overall while posting the second-best record in the SBC at 12-6 to earn a first-round bye at the league tournament. WKU ended the season with a non-conference RPI of 46 while playing a schedule that was among the 60 toughest in the country.