COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — San Diego State’s Steve Fisher was named the Mountain West coach of the year on Monday, with Aztecs guard Xavier Thames earning player of the year honors.
The eighth-ranked Aztecs picked up quite a few league awards after wrapping up the regular-season title over the weekend. Josh Davis was the newcomer of the year and Dwayne Polee II was voted as the league’s top sixth man.
The award winners were selected by the coaches along with a media panel.
In other awards, UNLV junior forward Khem Birch was the defensive player of the year for a second straight season and Fresno State’s Paul Watson was freshman of the year.
Fisher’s team was picked to finish fourth in the preseason poll, but went 16-2 in conference play. The Aztecs are 27-3 heading into the conference tournament this week in Las Vegas.
Thames led the team in scoring (16.9), assists (3), steals (1.7), free throw percentage (.829), 3-pointers made (49) and minutes (30.8). He also scored in double figures in 15 of 18 Mountain West contests this season.
Birch became just the third MW player to earn back-to-back defensive player of the year honors, joining UNLV’s Marcus Banks (2001-03) and Wyoming’s Justin Williams (2004-06).
The all-conference first team included: Thames, New Mexico forward Cameron Bairstow, Nevada guard Deonte Burton, New Mexico guard Kendall Williams and Wyoming forward Larry Nance Jr.
Thames also made the league’s all-defensive squad.