Wolf Pack sophomore Luke Babbitt named WAC Player of the Year
For the Nevada Appeal
RENO – The Nevada Wolf Pack will have the best player in the league this week during the Western Athletic Conference’s postseason tournament at Lawlor Events Center.
Wolf Pack sophomore Luke Babbitt was named the WAC Player of the Year on Sunday after a vote by the league’s nine head coaches. Babbitt, a Galena High graduate, is the Wolf Pack’s first WAC Player of the Year since Nick Fazekas won it for the third consecutive year in 2006-07.
A Wolf Pack player has now won the WAC’s top award in five of the last seven years. Kirk Snyder started the Pack’s dominance of the award in 2003-04 followed by Fazekas’ trifecta.
“I am extremely proud of Luke Babbitt for being named the WAC Player of the Year,” Pack coach David Carter said through the university’s media services department. “He has been very consistent for our team throughout the conference as well as throughout the season.”
Babbitt is second in the WAC in scoring at 21.7 points a game and leads the WAC in rebounding at 9.3 a game.
The 6-foot-9 power forward is joined by teammates Armon Johnson and Dario Hunt on the All-WAC teams.
Johnson, who leads the WAC in assists at 5.6 a game and is eighth in scoring at 16.0, was named to the All-WAC Second Team. Johnson, like Babbitt, was a First Team selection last year.
“I am very excited for Armon Johnson being named to the All-WAC Second Team,” Carter said. “He has worked very hard to become a more complete player and leader on our team, and it is a well-deserved honor.”
Hunt, second in the league in blocks at 2.0 a game and ninth in rebounding (7.0), was named to the All-WAC defensive team.
This is the ninth consecutive year the Pack has placed at least one player on the defensive team after Corey Jackson (2001-02), Jerry Petty (2002-03), Garry Hill-Thomas (2003-04), Kevinn Pinkney and Jermaine Washington (2004-05), Mo Charlo (2005-06), Kyle Shiloh (2006-07), Lyndale Burleson and JaVale McGee (2007-08) and Burleson last year.
“Dario Hunt being named to the WAC All-Defensive team is a great honor,” Carter said. “I am very happy to see him recognized for his hard work on the defensive end.”
The Wolf Pack, which finished second in the WAC at 11-5 (19-11 overall), will face Idaho on Thursday night (6 p.m.) in the first round of the WAC tournament at Lawlor.
“I am very fortunate to be able to coach these young men and see them be rewarded for the hard work they have put into being the best players they can be,” Carter said.
Babbitt was joined on the All-WAC First Team by Jahmar Young of New Mexico State, Adrian Oliver of San Jose State and Tai Wesley and Jared Quayle of conference champion Utah State. Young, like Babbitt, was also named to the First Team a year ago.
Young, a 6-4 guard, is third in the WAC in scoring at 20.9. Oliver, another 6-4 guard, leads the conference at 22.5 points a game. The 6-1 Quayle is averaging 11.9 points, 4.3 assists and 6.2 rebounds. Wesley, a 6-7 forward, averages 14.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
Johnson was joined on the Second Team by Fresno State’s Paul George (16.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.2 steals), Louisiana Tech’s Kyle Gibson (19.1 points) and Magnum Rolle (14.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.2 blocks) and New Mexico State’s Jonathan Gibson (17.8 points).
Kyle Gibson was also named to the Second Team in 2008-09.
Daequon Montreal of Boise State, Sylvester Seay of Fresno State, Roderick Flemings of Hawaii, Mac Hopson of Idaho and Wendell McKines of New Mexico State were named to the All-WAC Honorable Mention team.
Hopson was a First Team selection last year and Seay and Flemings were Second Team members.
Hunt was joined on the All-Defense Team by Marvin Jefferson of Idaho, Kyle Gibson and Rolle of Louisiana Tech, and Utah State’s Pooh Williams. Rolle was also named to the team a year ago.
The All-Newcomer Team consisted of Boise’s Montreal, Fresno State’s Greg Smith (also Freshman of the Year), Louisiana Tech’s DeAndre Brown and Utah State’s Nate Bendall and Brian Green.
Utah State’s Stew Morrill was named the WAC Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.
The WAC tournament will be held Thursday through Saturday at Lawlor. The 9 p.m. semifinal game on Friday and the championship game on Saturday will be televised by ESPN2.