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NEW YORK -- Georgetown guard Austin Freeman has been named 2010-11 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year by a vote of the league’s head men’s basketball coaches. It is the sixth time in league history that a Georgetown standout has captured BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year honors.
Syracuse freshman Fab Melo was chosen BIG EAST Preseason Rookie of the Year. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own players.
Freeman, a 6-3½ three-year starter for the Hoyas, was an All-BIG EAST Second Team pick last season while helping the team compile a 23-11 overall record and a 10-8 league mark. The Hoyas also advanced to the title game of The BIG EAST Championship and earned a bid to the NCAA Championship.
Freeman averaged 16.5 ppg and led all BIG EAST guards in field goal percentage, connecting on 52.5 percent of his attempts last year. He was fourth in the league in free throw shooting, making 85.6 percent. In conference games, he was even more effective, averaging 19.5 points and leading the league in 3-point shooting, making 51.9 percent.
The other Hoyas to earn BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year honors were Roy Hibbert (2007-08), Alonzo Mourning (1991-92) and three-time honoree Patrick Ewing (1982-83, ’83-84 and ’84-85).
Melo is a 7-0, 265-pound forward-center from Juiz de Forz, Brazil. In 2009-10, he played at Sagemont H.S. in Sagemont, Fla., where he earned McDonald’s All-American and Parade All-American honors.
In addition to Freeman, the Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team includes two members from last year’s All-BIG EAST Second Team and two from the All-BIG EAST Third Team. All five hail from the New York Metropolitan area, including three from the Bronx, N.Y.
Pittsburgh’s Ashton Gibbs, a guard from Scotch Plains, N.J., was the BIG EAST Most Improved Player last season and a second-team all-conference selection. The 6-2 junior led the Panthers in scoring with a 15.7 average and was first in the BIG EAST in free throw shooting, making 88.4 percent. In league games, his 3-point shooting mark of 44.4 percent ranked third in the conference.
Seton Hall’s Jeremy Hazell is the other second-team pick that is a preseason first team selection in 2010-11. The 6-5 senior is one of the three Bronx natives. Last season, Hazell finished third in the BIG EAST in scoring with a 20.4 average. In league games, he finished second in the conference scoring race, averaging 21.7 ppg. Going into the 2010-11 campaign, Hazell is the league’s active leader in points (1,058), 3-pointers made (169) and steals (93) in BIG EAST play.
Connecticut’s Kemba Walker and Villanova’s Corey Fisher made the All-BIG EAST Third Team last season. Walker, a 6-1 junior guard, averaged 14.6 ppg last year. He led the league in steals with a 2.1 average and was second in assists with a 5.1 mark. Fisher averaged 13.3 ppg and a team-leading 3.9 assists. Walker and Fisher both finished second on their respective teams in scoring. Both call the Bronx, N.Y., home.
West Virginia’s Kevin Jones helped spark the Mountaineers’ run to the NCAA Final Four last year and the school’s first BIG EAST Championship crown. A 6-8 junior forward from Mount Vernon, N.Y., Jones averaged 13.5 points and 7.2 rebounds. WVU finished the season with a 31-7 record.
The Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team includes three seniors and two juniors. The seniors are Georgetown guard Chris Wright, Notre Dame forward Tim Abromaitis and St. John’s guard-forward D.J. Kennedy. The juniors are Marquette forward Jimmy Butler and Syracuse forward Kris Joseph, who was the BIG EAST Sixth Man of the Year last season. Abromaitis and Butler earned BIG EAST Honorable Mention recognition.
The 2010-11 Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention group includes Cincinnati forward Yancy Gates, Marquette guard Darius Johnson-Odom and Syracuse forward Rick Jackson.
2010-11 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year
Austin Freeman, Georgetown
2010-11 BIG EAST Preseason Rookie of the Year
Fab Melo, Syracuse
2010-11 Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team
Austin Freeman, Georgetown (Player of the Year), G, Sr., 6-3 ½, 227, Mitchellville, Md.
Kemba Walker, Connecticut, G, Jr., 6-1, 172, Bronx, N.Y.
Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh, G, Jr., 6-2, 190, Scotch Plains, N.J.
Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall, G, Sr., 6-5, 188, Bronx, N.Y.
Corey Fisher, Villanova, G, Sr., 6-1, 200, Bronx, N.Y.
Kevin Jones, West Virginia, F, Jr., 6-8, 255, Mount Vernon, N.Y.
2010-11 Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team
Chris Wright, Georgetown, G, Sr., 6-1, 208, Washington, D.C.
Jimmy Butler, Marquette, F, Sr., 6-7, 220, Tomball, Texas
Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame, F, Sr., 6-8, 235, Unionville, Conn.
D.J. Kennedy, St. John’s, G/F, Sr., 6-5, 214, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Kris Joseph, Syracuse, F, Jr., 6-7, 207, Montreal, Quebec
2010-11 Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention
Yancy Gates, Cincinnati, F, Sr., 6-9, 260, Cincinnati, Ohio
Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette, G, Jr., 6-2, 215, Raleigh, N.C.
Rick Jackson, Syracuse, F, Sr., 6-9, 240, Philadelphia, Pa.