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Mountain West Concerence midseason award winners

At the midway point in the Mountain West Conference men's basketball race, there are few surprises. But new faces in the league have made a major impact with both outstanding and consistent performances.

Injuries have also been a theme that's rolled through several teams, including Colorado State, Air Force and Utah.

This appears to be a conference ruled by backcourt players after the first round of league play, and the top performers are not a surprise to those who cover the league.

Here are my Midseason MWC Awards:

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: The pundits called it in October. BYU junior Jimmer Fredette is the most dangerous player in the league. Even battling illness through the month of January after scoring a school record 49 points at Arizona, he leads the league in scoring, free throw shooting, three-point shooting percentage and is second in assists to TCU's Ronny Moss.

Fredette is the league's most honored and recognized player in terms of national exposure this winter and is absolutely the player coaches in this league would most likely want to see with the ball in his hands at the end of a close game.

In his last four games, Fredette's recovery from strep and mononucleosis has included games where he posted 33, 27, 36 and 26 points to help the Cougars hold a one-game lead over New Mexico in the MWC standings after the first round of play.

BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Shot-blocking Ute freshman David Foster has a whopping 95 blocks and is impacting opponents' shot selection more effectively than anyone, but BYU's Jackson Emery is the league's top on-ball defender. Emery leads the league in steals (64) and his closest challenger was Wyoming's A.J. Davis, who had 38 before he left the team on Friday.

BEST DEFENSIVE REBOUNDER: He comes off the bench for TCU, but Zvonke Buljan averages 6.9 defensive boards per game with 152 for the season. That's .5 more than New Mexico's Darington Hobson, who averages 6.4.

BEST PASSER: The leader is TCU's strong point guard and quarterback Ronnie Moss, who is averaging an impressive 6.4 assists per game.

BEST OFFENSIVE REBOUNDER: San Diego State's sensational freshman Kawhi Leonard has catcher's mitts for hands, and his 80 offensive rebounds are one reason the Aztecs are so powerful with their board work.

BEST 3-POINT SHOOTER: Sizzlin' Fredette is shooting 71 percent (17-of-24) from beyond the arc in his last four games and posts the best accuracy on the season in the league at .495 on 50-of-101 treys. UNM's Roman Martinez has made the most 3-pointers with 61.

BEST SHOOTER: Aztec junior Billy White is shooting at a .552 clip (80-of-145) and will likely finish the year as the three-time MWC shooting leader, all in consecutive years. In league play, you've got to go with UNLV's Tre'von Willis, who is scoring at a 21-point clip in MWC games, and 17.2 ppg in all games.

MINUTE MAN: Nobody has logged more minutes than Air Force junior Evan Washington at 34.5 minutes a game.

BEST FREE THROW MAN: Fredette gets to the line and, when he does, it's money at .901 on 128-of-142 shooting with the clock stopped. His nearest challenger is his teammate, freshman Tyler Haws, at .873 (62-of-71).

BEST FRESHMAN: It's a sprint to the finish with no clear-cut leader. If you go entire package, SDSU's Leonard and BYU's Tyler Haws fill up stat sheets and rank No. 2 and 3 in freshman scoring at 12.3 and 11.7 ppg, respectively. CSU's Dorian Green is the freshman scoring leader with 13.0 ppg, and Utah has found a weapon in Marshall Henderson, a zone buster.

BEST TRANSFER: Hands down it's UNM's Darington Hobson, who leads the ranked Lobos in scoring, rebounding and assists and ranks in the top five in the MWC in all those categories.

BEST COACHING JOB: New Mexico's Steve Alford and BYU's Dave Rose. Edge goes to Rose, who has caught the national spotlight because of his fight with cancer last summer. Rose still hasn't lost on his home court this season and his squad is first in 10 of 20 MWC statistical categories.

BEST SIXTH MAN: Jonathan Tavernari is a Cougar who accepted his role to come off the bench, and his energy level and being a threat from 3-point land proved key in wins over UNLV and SDSU when Fredette was ill.

e-mail: dharmon@desnews.com