When asked if he deserves to be named to the All-Mountain West first team, UNLV sophomore forward Chris Wood answered with confidence and without hesitation.
“Most definitely,” he said Saturday after the Rebels finished the regular season with a win at San Jose State.
The statistics support his statement, and so did the voting. The 6-foot-11-inch Wood, arguably the top NBA prospect in the conference, landed on the first team when the media announced awards Sunday for the 2014-15 season.
Wood was the Mountain West’s No. 5 scorer (15.7 points per game), No. 2 rebounder (10.3) and No. 2 shot blocker (2.6) in the 18-game conference season.
“I think what he has meant to our team and his production is such that he’s worthy of first-team consideration,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said.
The voting panel consisted of beat writers and other media members familiar with the teams. The top 15 players were selected, with the top five vote-getters making the first team. The conference will announce a team today that is voted on by the coaches. In past years, the media and coaches combined votes to form one team.
Boise State senior guard Derrick Marks, the league’s leading scorer at 21.3 points per game, was a unanimous choice for Player of the Year. Marks and Wood were joined on the first team by Wyoming senior forward Larry Nance Jr., Colorado State senior forward J.J. Avila and Fresno State junior guard Marvelle Harris.
UNLV freshman guard Rashad Vaughn was named to the third team. Vaughn averaged 18.3 points in 11 conference games before suffering a knee injury Feb. 10. Patrick McCaw, another freshman guard for the Rebels, earned honorable mention. McCaw, averaging 11.9 points in league play, was sidelined for Saturday’s game with a concussion.
Vaughn and McCaw are questionable to play when seventh-seeded UNLV (17-14, 8-10) opens in the conference tournament against 10th-seeded UNR (9-21, 5-13) at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Thomas &Mack Center.
Wolf Pack junior forward AJ West, the league’s leading rebounder at 12.1 per game, was named to the second team.
The UNLV-UNR winner advances to face second-seeded San Diego State, which shared the regular-season championship with Boise State. Leon Rice was named Coach of the Year for leading the Broncos (24-7, 14-4) to a finish that surpassed all expectations.
Rashad Muhammad, a sophomore guard from Bishop Gorman High School, earned honorable mention as San Jose State’s leading scorer.
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at email@example.com or 702-387-2907. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.