March 10, 2014
NEW YORK – Fuquan Edwin, Seton Hall’s all-time steals leader, 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 Villanova teammates Darrun Hilliard and Daniel Ochefu are co-winners of the BIG EAST Most Improved Player award. Marquette junior forward Davante Gardner has won the BIG EAST Sixth Man Award for a second straight year. Gardner’s teammate Chris Otule has won the BIG EAST Sportsmanship Award.
Edwin, a 6-6 senior guard from Paterson, N.J., led the BIG EAST in steals with 74 despite missing five games due to injuries. The senior broke the school record for career steals earlier in the season. He moved into seventh place on the BIG EAST’s all-time steals list with 153 in league play. He ranks second in the nation among active career steals leaders with 292, trailing only Ohio State’s Aaron Craft. This season he is averaging 15.8 points per game in league action.
Hilliard and Ochefu have come to the forefront to make significant contributions toward Villanova’s high-level success this season. Hilliard, a 6-6 junior from Bethlehem, Pa., is second on the team in scoring with a 14.4 average. He is shooting 41.4 percent from 3-point range. Last season, Hilliard averaged 11.4 points last year and shot 31.5 percent from beyond the arc. Hilliard also excels defensively, often drawing the most difficult assignment. Ochefu, a 6-11 sophomore, is averaging 5.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and shooting 62.1 percent from the field. A native of Baltimore, Md., he is fourth in the BIG EAST in blocked shots with a 1.5 average. Last year, he averaged 3.5 points and 4.1 rebounds.
Gardner is the first player to win the BIG EAST Sixth Man Award twice. This season, he leads Marquette with a 15.1 scoring average and is averaging 5.7 rebounds. A native of Suffolk, Va., he is shooting 52.5 percent from the field, which ranks sixth in the BIG EAST, and 78.8 percent from the foul line.
Otule returned for his sixth season with the Golden Eagles after receiving a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA following the 2012-13 campaign. A native of Richmond, Texas, the 6-11 center has seen three previous seasons cut short by injury. Otule has persevered and played 123 career games, 109 as a starter. His on-the-court demeanor and exemplary team leadership has been lauded by many. Also an effective player, Otule has 144 career blocks, which is fourth on the school’s all-time list.
BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year
Fuquan Edwin, Seton Hall
BIG EAST Most Improved Player
Darrun Hilliard, Villanova
Daniel Ochefu, Villanova
BIG EAST Sixth Man Award
Davante Gardner, Marquette
BIG EAST Sportsmanship Award
Chris Otule, Marquette