Rebels' Willis 'shocked' to earn all-MWC honor


A year after being voted first-team All-Mountain West Conference, UNLV senior Tre'Von Willis dropped to the second team. The news raised his eyebrows.

"I was shocked," Willis said. "I was expecting to get nothing."

Willis was one of three Rebels honored Monday, when the MWC announced voting results by the nine coaches and a media panel. Juniors Oscar Bellfield and Chace Stanback were named to the third team.

"If we had finished better, more of our guys would have got better accolades," said Willis, who led UNLV in scoring and ranked seventh in conference games with 14.5 points per game.

The Rebels (23-7, 11-5) are seeded No. 3 in the conference tournament and face No. 6 seed Air Force in the quarterfinals at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Willis was a driving force behind a strong finish to the regular season for UNLV, which has won five consecutive games. In the second half of league play, the 6-foot-4-inch guard from Fresno, Calif., averaged 15.6 points in eight games. He also shot 10-for-16 from 3-point range in the last four games.

"His finish has been really similar production-wise to what he was doing last year. That's great to see, and much needed," coach Lon Kruger said.

Brigham Young senior guard Jimmer Fredette was a unanimous selection as Player of the Year. Fredette averaged 31.4 points in league games, and he has a good shot to be voted the nation's top player.

Fredette was a unanimous selection because Willis was not allowed to vote.

"My vote would have been for Kawhi Leonard or maybe D.J. Gay, all-around players who can play defense," Willis said.

San Diego State's Leonard, a sophomore forward, and Gay, a senior guard, also made the first team along with New Mexico senior guard Dairese Gary and Colorado State senior forward Andy Ogide.

BYU's Dave Rose and San Diego State's Steve Fisher shared Coach of the Year. The Cougars and Aztecs finished as co-champions, with BYU getting the top seed in the tournament.

Cougars senior guard Jackson Emery was a second-team pick and the Defensive Player of the Year. The second team also included San Diego State senior Malcolm Thomas, New Mexico junior Drew Gordon and Utah junior Will Clyburn.

Willis, bothered by sore knees most of the season, said he considered his second-team honors surprising because, "I played how I felt -- bad. But I'm slowly climbing. I'm starting to feel pretty good."

Stanback, voted to the third team for the second straight year, was fourth in the league in field-goal percentage (.468), sixth in rebounding (6.1) and 11th in scoring (12.4).

He was neither shocked nor thrilled by the achievement. "It's not much, but I'll take it," Stanback said.

Kruger said he was "a little bit surprised" that sophomore guard Anthony Marshall received no mention in the all-conference voting.

Contact reporter Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907.

 

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