Cleveland Honors Players at Annual Awards Banquet

Travis Hansen Named Most Outstanding Player

PROVO -- BYU Head Basketball Coach Steve Cleveland expressed thanks to players, coaches and key supporters and gave out several honors Wednesday at the annual BYU Men's Basketball Awards Banquet. KSL Newsradio's Greg Wrubell, the play-by-play voice of the Cougars, emceed the banquet.

"This is a group of great people," Cleveland said. "We have great chemistry between the coaches and players. I have an outstanding coaching staff, and we really enjoyed coaching these young men."

Travis Hansen was recognized as the team's Most Outstanding Player, as voted by the coaching staff. The 6-foot-6 junior guard helped BYU to its third straight postseason tournament appearance and an 18-12 record, leading the Cougars in both scoring (15.6 ppg) and rebounding (6.2 rpg).

Senior Eric Nielsen, a team captain for the second straight season, was given the team's Best Defender award. The 6-foot-9 forward, who this year was named to the Verizon Academic All-District VIII Team, also was honored as an Academic Athlete. Senior Matt Montague was recognized as the Most Inspirational Player. The 6-foot point guard, also a team captain, became BYU's career and single-season assist leader in 2002.

Sophomore forward Mark Bigelow was given the Coaches Award, recognizing his hard work, example and leadership. Sophomore center Dan Howard was named the Most Improved Player, while freshman center Jared Jensen was selected the team's Newcomer of the Year. In addition to Nielsen, Bart Jepsen, Terry Nashif, Ricky Bower and Gifford Nielsen also were honored as Academic Athletes.

Cleveland credited his coaching staff with heartfelt words and praised the contributions of outgoing seniors Montague and Nielsen.

"In 25 years of coaching I've never had two individuals like Matt and Eric that absolutely have had no personal agendas," Cleveland said. "In three years they never questioned, not once, what I asked of them as their coach. They helped BYU win 64 games during the last three years. It was my privilege to coach these two young men."

In addition to recognizing each player, Cleveland also expressed his gratitude to the BYU administration, many support staff, his assistant coaches and staff, parents, wives, fans, and the media. He praised the contributions and influence of the late Floyd Johnson, BYU's longtime equipment manager who passed away during the season. Players wore a black stripe on their uniforms this season in his memory.

AWARDS

Most Outstanding Player

Travis Hansen

Best Defender

Eric Nielsen (Team Captain)

Most Inspirational Player

Matt Montague (Team Captain)

- 2001-2002 Season Assist record -- 217

- Career Assist record -- 570

Most Improved Player

Dan Howard

Newcomer of the Year

Jared Jensen

Coaches Award

Mark Bigelow

Academic Athletes

Eric Nielsen

Bart Jepsen

Terry Nashif

Ricky Bower

Gifford Nielsen