Syracuse's Wes Johnson Named BIG EAST Player of the Year




NEW YORK - Syracuse forward Wes Johnson, a newcomer who helped lead Syracuse to the BIG EAST regular-season title and an overall record of 28-3, has been named BIG EAST Player of the Year by a vote of the league's head coaches who were not permitted to vote for their own players.

Cincinnati guard Lance Stephenson has been selected BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has been named Oppenheimer Funds BIG EAST Coach of the Year.

A 6-7 junior, Johnson sat out last season after transferring from Iowa State. The native of Corsicana, Texas, used his all-around skills to contribute to SU's success. He averaged 15.7 points and 8.5 rebounds, both team highs. He is second on the club in blocks (1.9) and steals (1.7). He shot 48.7 percent from the floor, 38.1 percent from 3-point range and 78.6 percent from the foul line. Johnson is the first transfer from a four-year school to win BIG EAST Player of the Year honors. He is the first Player of the Year from Syracuse since Hakim Warrick in 2004-05.

Stephenson came to the Bearcats after a heralded high school career. The BIG EAST head coaches chose him as the Preseason Rookie of the Year. A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Stephenson led all freshmen in the league with a 12.0 scoring average. He was very productive late in the regular season by averaging 16.8 points and 8.3 rebounds over his last four games. He scored a collegiate-high 23 points in UC's regular-season finale at Georgetown.Stephenson is the first Cincinnati player to win a BIG EAST individual award.

Boeheim directed Syracuse to an outright BIG EAST regular-season crown after being selected sixth in the Preseason Coaches' Poll. A member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, Boeheim is in his 34th season as SU's head coach The dean of BIG EAST coaches, Boeheim owns a career record of 827-291 In BIG EAST regular-season play, he is 326-178. His Syracuse teams have captured nine league titles and five tournament crowns.It is the fourth time that Boeheim has collected the BIG EAST Coach of the Year award. He won in 1990-91 and in 1983-84.


BIG EAST Player of the Year:
Wes Johnson, Syracuse


BIG EAST Rookie of the Year:
Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati


Oppenheimer Funds BIG EAST Coach of the Year:
Jim Boeheim, Syracuse