OGDEN, Utah — For the first time in more than 20 years, a Montana Grizzly has been selected as the Big Sky Conference men’s basketball Most Valuable Player.
Grizzly junior forward/guard Kareem Jamar was tabbed as the Most Valuable Player, and also named to the All-Conference First Team for the second straight season.
The 2012-13 All-Conference team and individual award winners were selected by the league head coaches on Monday morning. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players.
Montana senior guard Will Cherry was selected as the Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season, and also garnered First Team All-Conference honors for the third time.
Weber State junior Davion Berry, a transfer from Division II Cal State Monterey Bay, was named as the Newcomer of the Year, and also garnered All-Conference First Team honors.
Eastern Washington’s Venky Jois was selected as the Freshman of the Year.
Jamar and North Dakota junior Troy Huff were unanimous selections to the First Team. Joining Jamar, Cherry and Huff on the First Team were Weber State senior guard Scott Bamforth, Northern Arizona senior guard Gabe Rogers, and Northern Colorado junior forward Derrick Barden.
Jamar, a versatile 6-foot-5 player from Venice, Calif., averaged 14.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists per game. He ranks in the top 15 in the Big Sky Conference in assists (third), scoring (seventh), assist/turnover ratio (seventh), 3-point field-goal percentage (13th) and field-goal percentage (15th).
Jamar helped Montana to its second straight regular-season conference title. Montana won a single-season conference record 19 games and lost just once. The Grizzlies will take a 23-6 overall record into the conference championship, which begins Thursday in Missoula.
Jamar is the first Grizzly since Delvon Anderson to claim the Big Sky MVP, who shared the honor in 1991-92. Since the Big Sky began recognizing an MVP in 1978-79, Jamar is the fifth UM player to win the honor. Derrick Pope was MVP in 1982-83, followed by Larry Krystkowiak three consecutive seasons. Kevin Kearney won the MVP in 1990-91.
Cherry, a 6-1, 181-pounder from West Oakland, Calif., missed 10 games this season because of injury, but still garnered accolades. He is just the second player in league history to win back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year honors, jointing Portland State’s Seamus Boxley (2004 and 2005). Cherry is the third straight Grizzly to win the award. Center Brian Qvale captured it in 2010-11.
Cherry ranks second in league history in steals with 258. Cherry averaged 13.3 points, 4.4 rebounds. 4.2 assists and 1.8 steals per game during the regular season. Cherry is just the 19th player in league history to earn First Team honors three times.
Berry, a 6-4,185-pounder from Oakland, sat out last season as a transfer. He shined in his first season at the Division I level, averaging a team-best 15.1 points per game to go along with 3.6 assists per game and a shooting percentage of .498. Berry is the third Weber State player in four seasons to win Newcomer of the Year.
Jois, a 6-7, 220-pound true freshman from Boronia, Australia, recorded nine double-doubles in his first collegiate season. He averaged 12.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and a league-best 2.4 blocked shorts per game. Jois was an Honorable Mention All-Conference pick.
Bamforth returned to the First Team for the second time in three seasons. He was a First Team pick as a sophomore and Second Team as a junior. Bamforth averaged 13.3 points per game during the regular season. He leads the Big Sky with an .881 free-throw shooting percentage. He averages 2.5 3-pointers per game and shoots .448 percent from 3-point range.
Barden, a 6-5 transfer from Detroit, shined in his first season with Northern Colorado. He leads the Big Sky with 10 double-doubles. He finished the regular season, averaging a league-best 9.1 rebounds per game. Barden averages 13.6 points per game and shoots .558 percent from the floor.
Rogers rounded out the First Team. The senior from Houston, Texas, had enjoyed a strong final campaign after suffering a shoulder injury as a junior. Rogers, who ranks sixth all-time in made 3-pointers in league history with 245, finished the regular-season averaging a league-best 18.1 points per game. He has made a league-high 93 3-pointers.
— Big Sky Conference
Kareem Jamar, Jr., F/G, Montana
Newcomer of the Year
Davion Berry, Jr., G/F, Weber State
Freshman of the Year
Venky Jois, Fr., F, Eastern Washington
Defensive Player of the Year
Will Cherry, Sr., G, Montana
#*Kareem Jamar Montana
Derrick Barden Northern Colorado G 6-5 Jr. Detroit, Mich.
#Scott Bamforth Weber State
*Unanimous Selection. @Three-Time First Team Selection. #Two-Time First Team Selection
Mathias Ward Montana
Aaron Anderson North Dakota
Jackson Stevenett Southern Utah F 6-4 Sr. Kaysville, Utah
Jordan Gregory Montana
Christian Moon Montana State G 6-2 Sr. Inkster, Mich.
Aaron Moore Portland State
Dylan Garrity Sacramento State G 6-2 So. Huntington Beach. Calif.
Frank Otis Weber State F 6-6 Sr. Oakland, Calif.