Butler sophomore Matt Howard was named Player of the Year, freshman Gordon Hayward was chosen Newcomer of the Year and head coach Brad Stevens was selected Coach of the Year on the 2008-09 Horizon League All-League Men's Basketball Team, released by the league office on Monday, March 2. Butler wound up with three total players honored on the All-League team, chosen by coaches, media and sports information directors.
Howard is the third Butler player in the past four seasons to be named league Player of the Year, following former teammate Mike Green (2007-08) and Brandon Polk (2005-06). He also was named first team All-League and was picked to the league's All-Defensive Team. The 6-8 forward currently ranks fourth in the league in scoring (14.3), third in rebounding (6.9), first in field goal shooting (.552) and second in blocked shots (1.6). He's the first non-senior to be selected Player of the Year since Rashad Phillips of Detroit won the award as a junior in 1999-2000 and the first sophomore honored since Parrish Casebier of Evansville in 1991-92.
Hayward, who also was named first team All-League, is the third consecutive Butler player to be named league Newcomer of the Year. He follows Howard (2007-08) and Green (2006-07). It's the first time a league school has won the award in three consecutive years. Hayward leads all league newcomers in scoring (13.8) and rebounding (6.3) and ranks among the league's top six players in both categories. He's the first freshman to win league Newcomer of the Year honors since 1995-96, when T. J. Lux of Northern Illinois captured the award.
Stevens, who guided a team picked fifth in the Horizon League preseason poll to a second consecutive outright league regular season championship, is the fourth Butler coach in the past decade to win league Coach of the Year honors. Barry Collier won league Coach of the Year honors for the fourth time in 1999-2000, Thad Matta captured the league coaching honor in 2000-01 and Todd Lickliter received the award in 2005-06 and 2006-07. Stevens owns a 55-8 record in his first two seasons.
Also recognized by the league was Butler freshman Shelvin Mack, who was named to the All-Newcomer team along with Hayward. Mack is currently second among all freshmen in the league in scoring (11.7).
Butler will host the quarterfinals and semifinals of the 2009 Horizon League Championship on Friday and Saturday, March 6-7. The Bulldogs will play their first game in the tournament on Saturday, March 7, at 7 p.m. (ET)
2008-09 All-League First Team: Matt Howard,
Butler; J'Nathan Bullock, Cleveland State; Ryan Tillema, Green
Bay; Gordon Hayward,
Butler; Josh Mayo, UIC.
All-League Second Team: Cedric Jackson, Cleveland State; Todd Brown, Wright State; Rahmon Fletcher, Green Bay; Tone Boyle, Milwaukee; Urule Igbavboa, Valparaiso.
All-Newcomer Team: Gordon Hayward, Butler; Shelvin Mack, Butler; Tone Boyle, Milwaukee; James Eayrs, Milwaukee; DeAndre Mays, Youngstown State.
All-Defensive Team: Cedric Jackson, Cleveland State; Terry Evans, Green Bay; Scott VanderMeer, UIC; Matt Howard, Butler; Will Graham, Wright State.
Player of the Year: Matt Howard, Butler
Newcomer of the Year: Gordon Hayward, Butler
Coach of the Year: Brad Stevens, Butler
Defensive Player of the Year: Cedric Jackson, Cleveland State
Sixth Man of the Year: Ryan Tillema, Green Bay