Five Cougars Recognized by MWC Coaches

The Mountain West Conference announced it's 2001-02 men's basketball awards Monday. The league's eight men's head coaches selected the all-conference teams, coach, player, freshman and defensive awards.

COLORADO SPRINGS --  The Mountain West Conference announced it's 2001-02 men's basketball awards Monday. The league's eight men's head coaches selected the all-conference teams, coach, player, freshman and defensive awards.

BYU junior guard Travis Hansen was selected to the second team while Cougar center Jared Jensen shared Freshman of the Year honors with Wyoming's Jason Straight. Jensen is the fourth BYU player to receive either Freshman or Newcomer of the Year honors in the five seasons Steve Cleveland has coached the Cougars. In all, five BYU players were recognized this year as senior point guard Matt Montague, senior forward Eric Nielsen and sophomore guard/forward Mark Bigelow received honorable mention.

Wyoming head coach Steve McClain captured Coach of the Year honors, while Britton Johnsen of Utah was selected the Player of the Year. UNLV's Marcus Banks was named Defensive Player of the Year.

Regular-season champion Wyoming led the league with four all-conference selections. Utah had the second-most honorees with three, followed by New Mexico, San Diego State and New Mexico with two and BYU and Colorado State with one. Utah's Britton Johnsen and San Diego State's Randy Holcomb were consensus first-team selections, while Marcus Bailey of Wyoming was the only repeat first-team honoree from last season.

Steve McClain led Wyoming to a 20-7 overall record and 11-3 league mark as it captured its second-straight regular-season conference title and its first outright crown since 1981-82. The 2001-02 Cowboys became the first Mountain West team to win five conference road games and 11 total league contests in a season. Wyoming has won 18 or more games in each of McClain's four years in Laramie, including back-to-back 20-win seasons.

Utah junior Britton Johnsen was selected as Player of the Year after leading the Utes to a 20-7 overall record, 10-4 in MWC play. Johnsen averaged 15.3 points and 58.1 rebounds per game in conference play this season while shooting 55.7 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from the 3-point line. In all games, he averaged 13.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game and shot 50.2 percent from the field. Johnsen was a second-team All-MWC selection last year and is the second Ute in three years to be named MWC Player of the Year (Alex Jensen, 1999-2000).

Junior guard Marcus Banks of UNLV was named Defensive of the Year by the conference coaches. Banks transferred to UNLV from Dixie College in St. George, Utah prior to the 2000-01 season and made an immediate impact this season. In conference games, he led the league with 30 steals and a 2.14 steals per game average. Banks recorded a league-high seven games with four or more steals this season, including a career-high six against Texas Dec. 22.

Freshman of the Year honors went to Wyoming's Jason Straight and BYU's Jared Jensen. Straight, a guard from Chicago, Ill. (Dunbar HS) replaced injured senior Chris McMillian this season and averaged 9.9 points per conference game and ranked fifth in assists at 3.21 per game. Jensen, a forward/center from West Haven, Utah (Fremont HS), led the MWC in field goal percentage in both league games (57.9 percent) and all games (60.3 percent), becoming the first freshman in conference history to achieve that distinction. He also scored 10.2 points and grabbed 3.4 rebounds per conference game.

All-Mountain West Conference First-Team Honorees:

Utah junior Britton Johnsen was selected to the first-team All-MWC and as Player of the Year after leading the Utes to a 20-7 overall record, 10-4 in MWC play. Johnsen averaged 15.3 points and 58.1 rebounds per game in conference play this season while shooting 55.7 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from the 3-point line. In all games, he averaged 13.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game and shot 50.2 percent from the field. Johnsen was a second-team All-MWC selection last year.

Wyoming junior guard Marcus Bailey was the only player in the league to capture first-team All-MWC honors for the second consecutive year. Bailey averaged 13.9 points, shot 53.4 percent from the field and grabbed 1.42 steals per tilt in 14 league games, ranking in the top 10 in all three categories.

UNLV junior forward Dalron Johnson was selected first-team All-MWC for the first time in his career after being named to the all-newcomer team and freshman of the year in 1999-2000. Johnson leads the league (conference games only) in blocked shots (1.29 bpg), while ranking tied for second in steals (1.17 spg), third in scoring (16.6 ppg) and seventh in rebounding (6.9 rpg). He recorded a league-high seven games with three or more blocks as well an ranking second in the conference with five games of four or more steals. Johnson was named the conference Player of the Week on Dec. 17 and Feb. 18, making him the only duplicate weekly award winner in the conference this season.

Junior guard Ruben Douglas of New Mexico is a MWC first-team selection this season after being named to the second and all-newcomer team in 2000-01. Douglas led the league in scoring in both conference (19.0 ppg) and overall (17.5 ppg) games. He also ranks second in free throw percentage (87.8) and fourth in 3-point percentage (45.3). Douglas had a conference-high 11 games in which he scored 20 or more points this season. He also became the first MWC player to record three 30-plus scoring efforts in a single-season.

San Diego State's Randy Holcomb was an all-newcomer team selection last season and becomes the first Aztec to garner first-team all-conference acclaim since Paul Jarrett in 1995-96. The senior ranks second in rebounding (8.9 rpg) and fourth in scoring (16.6 ppg) in conference games. Holcomb led the MWC in double-doubles this season with 13 and ranked tied for second in 20-plus scoring games with 10.

2001-02 Mountain West Conference Men's Basketball Postseason Awards (selected by head coaches)

Player of the Year - Britton Johnsen, Utah

Freshmen of the Year - Jason Straight, Wyoming/Jared Jensen, BYU

Defensive Player of the Year - Marcus Banks, UNLV

Coach of the Year - Steve McClain, Wyoming

First-Team All-Mountain West

Marcus Bailey, Wyoming, 6-5, 190, Jr., G/F, Cheyenne, Wyo. (East HS)

Ruben Douglas, New Mexico, 6-5, 200, Jr., G, Altadena, Calif. (Univ. of Arizona)

Randy Holcomb, San Diego State, 6-9, 222, Sr., F, Chicago, Ill. (LA City College)

Britton Johnsen, Utah, 6-9, 213, Jr., F, Murray, Utah (Murray HS)

Dalron Johnson, UNLV, 6-9, 205, Jr., Los Angeles, Calif. (Verbum Dei HS)

Second-Team All-Mountain West

Marcus Banks, UNLV, 6-1, 195, Jr., Las Vegas, Nev. (Dixie College)

Al Faux, San Diego State, 6-2, 178, Sr., Los Angeles, Calif. (Crenshaw HS)

Brian Greene, Colorado State, 6-8, 225, Jr., Thorton, Colo. (Horizon HS)

Travis Hansen, BYU, 6-6, 210, Jr., Orem, Utah (Utah Valley State College)

Uche Nsonwu-Amadi, Wyoming, 6-10, 260, Jr., F/C, Enugu, Nigeria (Indian Hills CC)

Third-Team All-Mountain West

Eric Chatfield, New Mexico, 6-3, 215, Sr., Queens, N.Y. (Angelina College)

Josh Davis, Wyoming, 6-8, 235, Sr., F/C, Salem, Ore. (Salem Academy HS)

Nick Jacobson, Utah, 6-4, 194, So., Fargo, N.D. (Roseville HS, Minn.)

Jeff Johnsen, Utah, 6-4, 204, Sr., Murray, Utah (Murray HS)

Donta Richardson, Wyoming, 6-2, 170, Jr., Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sheridan CC)

Honorable Mention:

Air Force

Lamoni Yazzie (Sr., G)

Tom Bellairs (Jr., F)

Joel Gerlach (So., F)

BYU

Mark Bigelow (So., F)

Matt Montague (Sr., G)

Eric Nielsen (Sr., F)

Colorado State

Andy Birley (Jr., G)

New Mexico

Patrick Dennehy (So., F)

San Diego State

Tony Bland (Jr., G)

UNLV

Lou Kelly (Sr., F)

Utah

Travis Spivey (Sr., G)