NEW YORK -
Fab Melo, Syracuse's sophomore center, has been named BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year by a vote of the league's head coaches who were not permitted to vote for their own players.
The league also announced that Notre Dame junior forward Jack Cooley is the BIG EAST Most Improved Player. Syracuse sophomore guard Dion Waiters has won the BIG EAST Sixth Man Award and Georgetown senior guard Jason Clark has been named the winner of the BIG EAST Sportsmanship Award.
Melo, who came to Syracuse from Sagemont, Fla., led the BIG EAST in blocked shots in league play with a 3.7 average. He also averaged 6.1 rebounds. The 7-0, 244-pound Melo is a valued member of the Syracuse lineup. In the team's only loss of the season, a defeat at Notre Dame, Melo did not play. He is the second straight Defensive Player of the Year winner from Syracuse. Rick Jackson was the 2010-11 honoree.
Cooley emerged as one of the BIG EAST's best big men this season after making modest contributions a season ago. As a sophomore in 2010-11, he averaged 3.7 points and 3.1 rebounds while playing 10.3 minutes per game. This season, the 6-9 Cooley is averaging 12.5 points and owns a rebounding mark of 9.2, which ranks fourth in the BIG EAST. Cooley is a native of Glenview, Ill.
Like his teammate Melo, Waiters has been an important ingredient to the Syracuse success. The first player off the bench, the 6-4 Waiters is the team's second leading scorer, averaging 11.9 points. A native of Philadelphia, Pa., he leads the team in steals with a 1.9 average.
Clark has been a steady leader throughout his Georgetown career. He helped Georgetown to a 12-6 BIG EAST mark this season and a No. 5 seed in The BIG EAST Championship. Clark is averaging 14.3 points. Off the court, Clark has worked with Hoya Dreams and Grassroots Hoyas, student-led community service organizations on campus. He is from Arlington, Va.
The BIG EAST will announce the winners of its four remaining individual honors -Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, OppenheimerFunds Coach of the Year and American Eagle Outfitters Scholar-Athlete of the Year - Tuesday prior to the start of the evening session of the BIG EAST Championship.
BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year
Fab Melo, Syracuse
BIG EAST Most Improved Player
Jack Cooley, Notre Dame
BIG EAST Sixth Man Award
Dion Waiters, Syracuse
BIG EAST Sportsmanship Award
Jason Clark, Georgetown