Miles Bridges, Derrick Walton Jr. named second team All-Big Ten; Bridges also Freshman of the Year

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Michigan State
Jan 29, 2017; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Derrick Walton Jr. (10) defends against Michigan State Spartans forward Miles Bridges (22) during the first half of a game at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve finally reached the postseason of college basketball. The regular season across Division I hoops wrapped up on Sunday, which meant awards and honors were handed out across the leagues on Monday.

In the Big Ten, four Michigan-based players — three Wolverines and two Spartans — found themselves on the board for 2016/17 honors. Among those being MSU freshman Miles Bridges, who was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

The superstar frosh Bridges averaged 16.6 PPG and 8.3 RPG in 24 games played this year for Michigan State. Those averages put him 7th and 5th respectively in the Big Ten at season’s end. Even his 1.6 blocks per game found him in the Top 5 among Big Ten players.

Bridges was a problem for opposing Big Ten teams inside and out, his 40.8 percent from three-point land was good for 17th in the Big Ten of players who played in at least the same number of games as Bridges. And now, he’s hoping to continue leading the Spartans into Washington, D.C. this week and hopefully make a big run at the Big Ten Tournament crown.

Bridges on Monday also earned second team All-Big Ten honors. Joining him in the board was a fellow Michigan-made player, Wolverines point guard Derrick Walton Jr.

The senior guard out of Detroit finished in the Top 10 in scoring as well this year, averaging 14.5 PPG to lead Michigan. He was only one of two Big Ten performers to post at least 14 PPG, 4 assists per game, and 4 rebounds per game all season (Tai Webster – Nebraska).

The veteran Walton carried the Wolverines on his back throughout conference play. All of his numbers saw a noticeable uptick in production in games against league foes. And like Bridges, he proved to be a menace inside and out. Not only did he knock down nearly 42 percent of his three balls this season, but he also converted on 85.7 percent of his freebie attempts, good for 5th among players who logged at least 800 minutes this season.

Among the other Spartans and Wolverines, MSU freshman Nick Ward and Walton’s teammates, senior Zak Irvin and sophomore Moritz Wagner, were named All-Big Ten honorable mentions.

Irvin (12.6 PPG) and Wagner (12.4 PPG) finished second and third respectively on the team in scoring behind Walton. This is the second consecutive season that Irvin was named as an honorable mention. Wagner meanwhile is also knocking down better than 43 percent of his three-point shots this year.

Ward meanwhile finished second on the team in scoring (13.6 PPG) and rebounding (6.3 RPG) behind only Bridges. The more impressive part is he did that while averaging less than 20 minutes per game this season.

Ward could have very well been snubbed off the All-Freshman team, a group where his teammate Bridges was a unanimous selection by the coaches. The two combined to take home nine Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors this season (Bridges: 5). And Ward was named Big Ten overall Player of the Week at this point seven days ago.

But he remains off the list.

Here are the other notable individual Big Ten honors handed out on Monday:

  • Player of the Year: Caleb Swanigan, Purdue (unanimous)
  • Defensive POY: Reggie Lynch, Minnesota
  • Sixth Man of the Year: Nicholas Baer, Iowa
  • Coach of the Year: Richard Pitino, Minnesota

You can view the list in its entirety here. A reminder that the Big Ten Tournament tips off Wednesday afternoon in Washington D.C. at the Verizon Center.


**Player/Team stats courtesy of Sports-Reference