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Hansbrough, Walker among Big East honorees

Eric Prister | Thursday, March 10, 2011

Among other accolades, including Big East Player of the Year, Irish senior guard Ben Hansbrough was named to the Big East all-conference first team. Joining Hansbrough were five others, Connecticut junior guard Kemba Walker, Providence senior guard Marshon Broosk, Georgetown senior guard Austin Freeman, Pittsburgh junior guard Ashton Gibbs and St. John’s senior guard Dwight Hardy.

Hansbrough finished third in the Big East in scoring, averaging 18.5 per game, and 11th in assists with four per contest. His 45-percent 3-point shooting percentage is also third in the conference. Hansbrough averaged over 20 points per game in Big East play, including four straight contests over 20. He was the only player unanimously named to the all-Big East first team.

“He’s been amazing,” Irish coach Mike Brey said of Hansbrough on Jim Rome is Burning. “He is a live-on-the-edge, compete-every-day, want-to-win-everything [player]. And he pulls his teammates along with him, come hell or high water. He’s just done a great job setting for the tone for us. He has a great basketball IQ.”

Kemba Walker finished second in the Big East in scoring with 23.1 points per game. He led the Huskies in scoring in 25 of their 31 games this season, scoring 24 points or more 13 times. He played a conference-high 37.4 minutes per game and finished 10th in the Big East in assists with 4.3 per contest.

“He’s leading a lot of young people to some awfully good places,” Huskies coach Jim Calhoun said after Connecticut’s Feb. 16 win over Georgetown. “I’ve never seen a guy be able to do those kinds of things. He obviously wins games, but he’s also a pretty good guy to watch play. He’s fun to watch play.”

Marshon Brooks led the Big East in scoring with a 24.8 points per game average. He scored 20 points of more in all but three Big East games, including a 52-point explosion in Providence’s one-point loss to Notre Dame Feb. 23. Brooks also finished seventh in the conference in rebounds, pulling down just over seven per game. He led the Friars in points in 26 of their 31 contests, and recorded seven double-doubles.

“Marshon Brooks is able to make the right plays — not just scoring, but make the right passes,” Friars coach Keno Davis said after the loss to Notre Dame. “I feel like he is pretty unselfish, I don’t know. But it’s a special player. He can score in so many ways.”

Austin Freeman scored 17.8 points per game for the Hoyas, good enough for fifth in the Big East. Freeman was named the Preseason Big East Player of the Year, and scored at least 20 points in 11 contests this season. He ranked third in the Big East in free throw percentage, shooting 86.7 percent from the charity stripe.

“Austin Freeman in most situations is unflappable,” Hoyas coach John Thompson III said after Georgetown defeated Villanova Jan. 29. “So the last three minutes of the game were only indicative of what he’s done the last four years. They’re running, trapping and making it hard to do what you want to do, so you put the ball in his hands because good things happen.”

Gibbs finished sixth in the Big East in scoring for the regular season champions, averaging 16.1 points per game. He led the conference in 3-point percentage, making 46.6 percent of his shots from beyond the arc, and in free throw percentage at 89.5 percent. Gibbs sunk at least three 3-pointers in 19 contests this year for the Panthers.

Hardy was named the Big East Most Improved Player and earned Big East Player of the Week three times, the most in the conference. His 17.9 points per game was good enough for fourth in the conference, and he finished fifth in free throw percentage, making 84.4 percent from the line.