Valentine is MSU’s eighth Big Ten player of the year

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Denzel Valentine

Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine was named the Big Ten player of the year on Monday, becoming the eighth player in Spartans history to earn the honor and the first since Draymond Green in 2012.

Valentine, who was also a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection, averaged 19.6 points, 7.5 assists and 7.5 rebounds a game. Since assists became an official statistic in 1983-84, no player had averaged 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for a season.

No. 2 Michigan State enters the Big Ten tournament as the second seed and has won 10 of its last 11 games. It has many believing the Spartans are the favorite to win the conference tournament as well as the NCAA championship.

On Saturday, Valentine guaranteed Michigan State would win the national title and he talked about why on Monday.


“It’s up to us as far as my teammates and how we handle our business on the court that will determine winning the national championship or not,” Valentine said. “A far as talent and pieces, and everything you need to win a national championship, I think we have the team.”

It’s something that is driving Valentine, far more than individual awards that have already started rolling in.

“I just want to be remembered as a winner,” Valentine said. “That’s what separates you at this school is winning. This school is known for Final Fours, tough play, Big Ten championships, everything like that. But there have only been two national championship teams and I want to be part of the third one.”

In addition to Valentine’s honors, Bryn Forbes was a unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten second team while Matt Costello was named to the second team by the media and third team by the coaches.

Other awards

Valentine was also named Michigan State’s team MVP at the annual awards banquet on Monday. He was selected by the team and the media, the second straight year he earned MVP honors after sharing them last season with Branden Dawson.

Valentine also received the Antonio Smith Glue and Guts Award for the second straight season.

Here’s a list of the rest of the awards handed out on Monday:

Scholar-Athlete Award: Colby Wollenman

Unsung Player Award: Colby Wollenman

Tim Bograkos Walk-On Award: Matt Van Dyk

Most Improved Player Award: Bryn Forbes, Matt Costello

John E. Benington Best Defensive Player Award: Eron Harris

Stephen G. Scofes Inspirational Player Award: Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr.

Jumping Johnny Green Chairman of the Boards Award: Matt Costello

Senior Manager Award: Ryan Nadeau, Andrew Novak

Great eight

Michigan State has had eight players earn Big Ten player of the year honors, the most of any school in the conference. The award was first handed out in 1984-85.

Scott Skiles, 1985-86

Shawn Respert, 1994-95

Mateen Cleaves, 1997-98

Mateen Cleaves, 1998-99

Morris Peterson, 1999-2000

Kalin Lucas, 2008-09

Draymond Green, 2011-12

Denzel Valentine, 2015-16