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Valentine, Powers named MSU’s athletes of the year

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Denzel Valentine said joining the distinguished list of previous George Alderton Male Athlete of the Year winners is "humbling.”

East Lansing — Denzel Valentine was named Michigan State’s George Alderton Male Athlete of the Year on Monday, capping a four-year career that will likely lead to a first-round selection in this month’s NBA Draft.

Named the National Player of the Year by six different groups, including the Associated Press, Valentine was a consensus first-team All-American, the Big Ten Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player of the Big Ten Tournament. He became the only player in NCAA history to average 19 points (19.2 ppg), seven rebounds (7.5 rpg) and seven assists (7.8 apg) since the assist became an official statistic in 1983-84.

Valentine ranked fourth in the nation in assists (7.8 apg), eighth in 3-point field goals per game (3.35) and 11th in 3-point field-goal percentage (.444).

“Wearing the Green and White was a dream come true,” Valentine said. “Before stepping on campus I was well aware of the great history, both of the basketball program and across the athletic department. Every time I stepped on the court, I just tried to live up to the lofty standards of those who played before me. To join the distinguished list of previous Alderton winners is humbling.”

Added Michigan State coach Tom Izzo: “Denzel gets credit for being a multidimensional player, and rightly so, but it’s appropriate that he win the Alderton Award because he’s multidimensional in his love for Michigan State University and our athletic department. It was not unusual to see him at another sporting event supporting many of our other great teams. This is an award that will mean a lot to Denzel.”

Four other Spartans were also honored.

Women’s basketball player Aerial Powers was named the George Alderton Female Athlete of the Year honors. She earned third-team Associated Press All-America honors after setting the single-season scoring record with 697 points. She finished her three-year career as MSU’s all-time leading scorer with 1,817 points.

Aerial Powers set Michigan State's single-season scoring record for women's basketball with 697 points this season.

Senior center Jack Allen and senior gymnast Lisa Burt were named Michigan State’s recipients for the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor. The Big Ten Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1915 to one student-athlete from the graduating class of each university who had “attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work.”

Allen was also named the recipient of the Chester Brewer Leadership Award.

Women’s soccer senior Sarah Kovan was given the Dr. James Feurig Achievement and Service Award.

AWARD — WINNER

George Alderton Male Athlete of the Year — Denzel Valentine (basketball)

George Alderton Female Athlete of the Year — Aerial Powers (basketball)

Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor (Male) — Jack Allen (football)

Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor (Female) — Lisa Burt (gymnastics)

Chester Brewer Leadership Award — Jack Allen (football)

Dr. James Feurig Achievement and Service Award — Sarah Kovan (soccer)