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UNLV's J.R. Rider has been named the Big West player of the year as selected by the conference coaches, it was announced Wednesday.

Cal-Santa Barbara's Kyle Milling was named freshman of the year and Pacific's Bob Thomason was tabbed coach of the year after leading the Tigers to their best season in 14 years.Utah State guard Jay Goodman was selected to the all-conference second team, while Jon Wickizer was named to the all-freshman squad.

One of the most complete players in conference history, Rider, a 6-5 senior forward from Oakland, Calif., leads the conference in scoring with a 29.2 average (second in the nation).

Rider is among the Big West's leaders this year in field goal percentage (.526), 3-point field goal percentage (.402), free throw percentage (.840), rebounds (8.7) and 3-point field goals made per game (2.0).

In January, Rider put together a streak of 6 consecutive 30-point games, which garnered him successive conference player of the week honors. On the season, he posted 15 30-point games. Rider joins ex-Rebels Larry Johnson (1991-92), Stacey Augmon (1989), Armon Gilliam (1987), Anthony Jones (1986), Richie Adams (1984-85) and Sidney Green (1983), all former Big West players of the year.

Milling, a 6-8 forward out of Poway, Calif., has appeared in all 26 Gaucho games this year, averaging 3.9 points and 3.3 rebounds in nearly 14 minutes a game. Milling came on strong toward the close of the regular season, averaging 6.6 points and 5.4 rebounds over the final 8 games heading into the Big West Tourney.

Milling is the second straight Gaucho to earn freshman of the year recognition (Doug Muse was named last year) and the third (Carrick DeHart won in 1987) since the award was initiated in 1981.

Now in his fifth year at Pacific, Thomason led the Tigers to a third-place finish in the Big West with a 12-6 record, their best showing since winning the conference title in 1979.


(Additional information)

All-Big West team

First team

J.R. Rider, Nevada-Las Vegas

Lucious Harris, Long Beach State

Sam Crawford, New Mexico State

Evric Gray, Nevada-Las Vegas

Dexter Boney, Nevada-Las Vegas

Bruce Bowen, Cal St. Fullerton

Second team

Tracey Ware, New Mexico State

Tony Amundsen, Pacific

Jay Goodman, Utah State

Ray Kelly, UC-Santa Barbara

Eric Morris, Nevada

Honorable mention

Bryon Russell, Long Beach State

Jeff Von Lutzow, UC-Irvine

Aaron Sunderland, Cal St. Fullerton

Charles Terrell, Pacific

Daryl Scott, San Jose State

Chris Tower, Long Beach State

Idris Jones, UC-Santa Barbara

Don Leary, Cal St. Fullerton

Glen Griffin, Pacific

All-Freshman team

Kyle Milling, UC-Santa Barbara

Jon Wickizer, Utah State

Shaun Battle, UC-Irvine

Chris Ford, UC-Santa Barbara

Lawrence Thomas, Nevada-Las Vegas