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.
All-Big West 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
Tracey Ware, New Mexico State
Tony Amundsen, Pacific
Jay Goodman, Utah State
Ray Kelly, UC-Santa Barbara
Eric Morris, Nevada
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
Kyle Milling, UC-Santa Barbara
Jon Wickizer, Utah State
Shaun Battle, UC-Irvine
Chris Ford, UC-Santa Barbara
Lawrence Thomas, Nevada-Las Vegas