COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Mountain West announced its 2012-13 men's basketball awards today. The league's nine men's head coaches, along with a select media panel, picked the All-Conference teams, as well as the coach, player, newcomer, freshman, sixth man and defensive awards.
New Mexico head coach Steve Alford earned MW Coach of the Year honors, while the Lobos' Kendall Williams was selected as the Player of the Year. Additionally, UNLV teammates Khem Birch and Anthony Bennett garnered Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year accolades, respectively, while Colorado State teammates Colton Iverson and Daniel Bejarano were chosen as the Newcomer and Sixth Man of the Year, respectively.
Eight student-athletes are repeat selections to the All-Conference list in 2012-13, while the remaining seven make their first appearance on the team. Air Force's Michael Lyons is the only three-time All-MW honoree among the group, earning first-team accolades following third-team and second-team selections in 2010-11 and 2011-12, respectively.
Alford received his third MW coaching award after leading the Lobos to their fourth Mountain West regular-season crown, and second outright. New Mexico amassed a 13-3 record in Conference play in 2012-13.
Williams, a 6-4, 185-pound junior guard, ranked among league leaders in seven different categories for Conference-only games in 2012-13. The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., native was second in assists (5.3) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5), eighth in steals (1.8) and minutes played (33.9), ninth in free throw percentage (.706), 10th in 3-pointers made (1.7) and tied for 10th in scoring (13.1). Williams recorded at least three assists in each of the 15 MW games he played in 2012-13, including nine with five or more. The Lobos' leading scorer netted double figures in 10 of the 15 contests, including a career-high 46 points at then-No. 22/21 Colorado State on Feb. 23, which ranks as the third-best single-game scoring performance in the NCAA this season. Williams converted 10 3-pointers in the contest, setting a league record for most in a MW-only game as New Mexico snapped the Rams' 27-game home win streak.
Birch, a 6-9, 220-pound sophomore guard from Montreal, Ontario, Canada, blocked a league-high 48 shots this season, averaging 3.0 rejections per game. He blocked at least one shot in each of the 16 MW contests, including four outings with five or more. Offensively, Birch contributed 7.3 points per game, while adding a 5.8 average on the glass.
Iverson, a 6-10, 261-pound senior forward/center, was the only MW player to average a double-double in Conference play in 2012-13 with a league-high 10.4 rebounds and seventh-best 14.6 points per game. He scored in double figures in 13 of 16 Conference contests, while registering double-digit rebounds in nine games. The Yankton, S.D., product also led the MW with a 60.6 field goal shooting percentage.
Bennett, a 6-8, 240-pound guard from Brampton, Ontario, Canada, was the league's top freshman scorer in MW games this season, ranking 14th with 12.1 points per game. He also ranked sixth in the league in both rebounding (7.2) and blocked shots (1.1). Bennett scored in double figures in nine Conference games with three 20-point outings, including a season-high 25 at Boise State on Feb. 2.
Bejarano, a 6-4, 202-pound sophomore guard, averaged 5.6 points and 4.9 rebounds off the bench for the Rams in Conference play in 2012-13. His 4.9 rebounding average tied for 17th in the league. Hailing from Phoenix, Ariz., Bejarano shot 37.2 percent (35-of-94) from the field, while also tallying 12 steals and eight assists.