Park Ridge, IL – For the third time in five years, an Illinois standout collected the Big Ten's highest honor as junior Dee Brown was chosen as the Conference Player of the Year in voting by both the coaches and the media. He joins Brian Cook (2003) and Frank Williams (2001) as just the third player in program history to earn Player of the Year accolades. Brown, one of two unanimous All-Big Ten First Team picks by the coaches, led Illinois to its second consecutive outright Big Ten title for the first time since 1951-52 and its fourth in five seasons. The 6-0 guard led the Big Ten in three-point field goal percentage (.515) and three-point field goals made with 3.19 per game in League contests only. He also rated among the top 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2nd at 2.91), assists (4th at 4.0), steals (5th at 1.75) and scoring (10th at 15.0).
Brown also was named the Conference Defensive Player of the Year, becoming only the second player in Big Ten history to earn Player of the Year honors and defensive accolades in the same season. In 1988, Michigan's Gary Grant became the first Conference standout to earn both awards. Brown is just the third Illinois player to collect defensive laurels, joining Bruce Douglas (1985-86) and Stephen Bardo (1989).
Illinois' Bruce Weber was tabbed as the Big Ten Coach of the Year by the media after becoming the first mentor in League history to lead his team to back-to-back outright championships in his first two years at the helm. The Illini finished the regular season with a 15-1 record, tying the 1999 Michigan State squad for the most victories in Big Ten play since the League went to a 16-game schedule. Illinois also set a school record, posting 25 consecutive victories in Big Ten play, breaking the previous school mark of 17 set during the 1914-1915 season.
In other individual honors, Indiana's D.J. White earned Freshman of the Year honors from both the coaches and media. He became the seventh Hoosier to nab Freshman of the Year honors after tying for first place in League games only with 2.12 blocks per contest, while ranking third in field goal percentage (.603) and 16th in scoring (13.9 ppg). White was joined by four other first-year standouts on the Big Ten All-Freshman Team, as the five-man squad also included teammate Robert Vaden, Michigan State's Drew Neitzel, Minnesota's Dan Coleman and Penn State's Geary Claxton.
The 2005 All-Big Ten teams were dominated by underclassmen for the second consecutive year, as 12 of the 15 selections have a chance to return to their teams next season. Both First Team All-Big Ten squads included Illinois' Brown, Luther Head and Deron Williams and Wisconsin's Mike Wilkinson. Indiana's Bracey Wright was the fifth choice of the media, while the coaches picked Minnesota's Vincent Grier. Williams was the only returning First Team honoree, while Brown and Wilkinson were unanimous picks. In addition, it marks only the fourth time in League history that three or more players from the same squad earned First Team accolades. Indiana had four players named to the 1975 All-Big Ten First Team (Kent Benson, Quinn Buckner, Steve Green and Scott May), while Ohio State had three standouts honored in 1961 (John Havlicek, Jerry Lucas and Larry Siegfried) and 1971 (Jim Cleamons, Allan Hornyak and Luke Witte). Illinois also had three players named to the 1956 All-Big Ten First Team (George Bon Salle, Paul Judson and Bill Ridley).
The Conference office also announced honorees from each team for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. The student-athletes chosen are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, the student-athletes must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting. Honorees for men's basketball are Illinois' Roger Powell Jr., Indiana's Mike Roberts, Iowa's Greg Brunner, Michigan's Graham Brown, Michigan State's Chris Hill, Minnesota's Brent Lawson, Northwestern's Davor Duvancic, Ohio State's Matt Marinchick, Penn State's Kevin Fellows, Purdue's Andrew Ford and Wisconsin's Wilkinson. These 11 student-athletes are now candidates for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, as the Conference office will honor one male and one female student-athlete from each institution at the end of the school year.
Official Big Ten press release