Three Spartans Recognized by the Big Ten Conference

Colin Koot

The Big Ten player of the year award is the most coveted award in the conference, and Michigan State University point guard Cassius Winston earned it.

Winston averaged 19 points and 7.6 assists on the year, leading the team in those respective categories. He also improved on the defensive end of the floor by guarding better and better players, stepping up to be a complete leader.

“He’s a leader on and off the floor, and I’d say he really stepped into his leadership role by taking Foster Lawyer under his wing,” said freshman Joseph Fraga. “There has been multiple times where Cassius talked to Lawyer about mistakes that he has made and how to fix them.”

With Joshua Langford being out with an injury since December, the Spartans needed another leader on the floor. Cassius Winston was given the spot as the team’s third captain in February, and he took the position in stride.  

“I think Cassius proved to me some things that he could do,” said Tom Izzo, Michigan State men’s head basketball coach on electing Winston as captain. “And I also think it’s my way of imposing my beliefs on what I think is needed for us to be a great team, and maybe as important, him to be an elite player.”

The star point guard has played a pivotal role in the Spartans Big Ten championship run. However, he wasn’t the only player recognized for his efforts.  

Xavier Tillman was named the Big Ten sixth man of the year, the award given to the best bench player.  He averaged 9.3 points and 7.1 rebounds, giving the Spartans a spark every time he came off the bench.

Tillman found himself in the game even more towards the end of the year when Nick Ward went out with a left hand injury.  He fit into his role by blocking shots, getting rebounds, and scoring down low.

Matt McQuaid was awarded with placement on the all Big Ten first defensive team because of his fantastic defensive season.  He always took on the other team’s best player, and frequently shut him down.

Carsen Edwards from Purdue averaged 23.4 points per game on the year, however he was shut down by Matt McQuaid.  He scored just 11 and 14 points in the two meetings of the Boilermakers and Spartans.

“McQuaid is a sharpshooter who can give the team a spark if they run cold. He’s not a flashy player, but he is a lock up defender who clamps up some of the most prolific scorers in this league,” said Fraga.

With these three award winning players, MSU looks to advance far in this year’s NCAA tournament.