Lavender Repeats As Big Ten Player of Year

In no major surprise, Ohio State center Jantel Lavender was named 2008-09 Big Ten Women's Basketball Player of the Year in separate voting by conference coaches and a media panel announced March 2. Shavelle Little, Samantha Prahalis and Jim Foster also received major awards.

Lavender, a sophomore from Cleveland, led the conference in scoring (20.6 points per game) and rebounding (10.6) and was named First Team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and media for a second consecutive season.

She was also the coaches' player of the year a season ago, so her selection this season gives Ohio State five consecutive years with the player receiving that honor after Jessica Davenport did so her final three years in scarlet and gray.

Lavender was not the only Buckeye to be a repeat winner. Junior guard Shavelle Little defended her title as Big Ten defensive player of the year and was the only unanimous choice for the all-defensive team. She finished second in the league in steals per game with 2.6. Illinois' Lacey Simpson nabbed 3.1.

Both the coaches and media selected Ohio State point guard Samantha Prahalis freshman of the year and tabbed Ohio State's Jim Foster coach of the year, his fourth such honor in five years.

Prahalis also made the coaches' all-freshman team in a unanimous vote.

The all-conference teams were not as nice to the Buckeyes, however.

After Lavender made both first teams, the media chose Prahalis to its second team and senior forward Star Allen to the third team.

The coaches named Allen to their third team and gave Prahalis honorable mention.

Allen was also a second-team all-league pick (media) as a sophomore in 2007.

The same day those honors were announced, Lavender also took home a record-tying fifth Big Ten player of the week honor after averaging 24.5 points and 12.5 rebounds during the final week of the regular season.

Lavender started the week with 21 points on 8-of-13 (.615) shooting and grabbed 13 boards as Ohio State beat Wisconsin on Feb. 26 to clinch at least a share of the title. Three days later against Penn State, the Cleveland native poured in 28 points and added 12 more rebounds to pad her league-leading averages in both categories.

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