Fighting through injuries all the way to a championship, Tyler Harvey and Venky Jois of Eastern Washington earned another reward Monday: a place on the All-Big Sky Conference first team in men’s basketball.
Two days after finishing with a 23-8 regular season and a Big Sky co-championship, the Eagles snagged another honor when forward Bogdan Bliznyuk was named the Freshman of the Year.
The other first-team honorees were Sacramento State guard and conference MVP Mikh McKinney; forward Martin Breunig and guard Jordan Gregory of Montana; and Northern Arizona guard Kris Yanku.
Idaho guards Connor Hill and Mike Scott were named to the second team, and EWU point guard Drew Brandon was an honorable mention selection.
Harvey, a repeat first-team pick, leads the nation in scoring with a 22.9 average and four 3-pointers per game. The junior guard missed three league games with a quadriceps contusion.
“I’m very glad Tyler was named first team all-conference,” Eastern coach Jim Hayford said. “But I think if he was injury-free this season he would have been the MVP, and the tournament probably would be here in Cheney. He’s a very special player and very deserving of this recognition.”
McKinney averaged of 19 points per game, led the league in steals (2.6 pg), was second in assists (5.0 pg), and shot 51.5 percent from the field in leading Sacramento State to its first winning season in 19 years.
Jois, a junior, missed four full games and parts of two others with a sprained ankle, but ranks fourth in the league in scoring (17.1 ppg), third in field goal percentage (60.4 percent), and first in blocked shots per game (2.41).
Said Hayford, “Venky is one of the players we’ve built this program on. He came in as a freshman and we went through a 10-21 season, but we knew he was the kind of person who could help us build our program.”
Bliznyuk, a 6-foot-6 native of Ukraine, averaged 12 points per game and ranked fifth in the Big Sky in shooting (58 percent) and 12th in rebounding (5.6)
“Bogdan had a great freshman year and has a great career ahead of him,” Hayford said.
Hill, from Post Falls, is a four-year letterman and has 123 successive starts for the Vandals. He has become the most prolific 3-point shooter in school history and is the nation’s active career 3-point goal leader with 334.
In last Saturday night’s game at Idaho State, he had six 3s to set the Idaho all-time single-season record with a total of 102.
Hill is fifth on the all-time Idaho scoring list with 1,485 career points, which came off making 496 (eighth all-time) of 1,123 field goal attempts (seventh all-time).
Scott, a two-year Vandal who took over the starting point guard role midway through last season, has made his name known this year as one of the leaders in assists and assists-to-turnover ratio. He leads the Big Sky in assist-to-turnover ratio (sixth nationally), assists per game (35th nationally) and total assists (43rd nationally).
Scott, from Los Angeles, has 154 assists this season.
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