NEW YORK – Rick Jackson, Syracuse’s senior forward, has been named BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year by a vote of the league’s head coaches who were not permitted to vote for their own players.
The league also announced that St. John’s guard Dwight Hardy is the BIG EAST Most Improved Player. Hardy’s teammate, forward Justin Burrell, is the winner of the BIG EAST Sixth Man Award. Pittsburgh guard Brad Wanamaker won the BIG EAST Sportsmanship Award.
Jackson was a shot-blocking and rebounding standout for the Orange. He won the BIG EAST rebounding crown by averaging 9.9 rebounds in league games. In all contests, he was first in the league with a 10.7 mark. Jackson is the first Syracuse player to win the BIG EAST rebounding title since Derrick Coleman in 1989-90. Jackson also averaged a league-leading 7.2 defensive rebounds game. The native of Philadelphia, Pa., led the BIG EAST in blocked shots with a 2.5 average in all games and a 2.8 mark in league play. Jackson averaged 13.1 ppg.
Hardy helped St. John’s return to a contender’s role in the BIG EAST standings. The 6-2 senior finished fourth in the league in scoring, averaging 17.9 ppg. Though not named to any of the Preseason All-BIG EAST teams, he earned an All-BIG EAST First Team selection. The native of the Bronx, N.Y., helped the Red Storm end the regular season by winning nine of their last 11 games.
Burrell, a 6-8 senior, is also from the Bronx, N.Y. He was a key contributor off the bench in helping the Red Storm to a 20-10 overall record and a 12-6 BIG EAST mark. Burrell averaged 6.6 points and 5.0 rebounds while playing 21.1 minutes per game. He shot 51.1 percent from the field.
Wanamaker has been an exemplary performer for Pittsburgh. He guided the Panthers to the BIG EAST regular-season title with a 15-3 record. Overall, Pitt is 27-4. An all-around contributor, the senior captain from Philadelphia, Pa., averaged 11.9 points, 5.2 assists and 1.5 steals in all games. His assist/turnover ratio of 2.3 was third in the BIG EAST.
The winners of the remaining regular-season awards -- the BIG EAST Player of the Year, OppenheimerFunds BIG EAST Coach of the Year, BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and American Eagle Outfitters BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete of the Year -- will be announced Tuesday at a press conference between sessions of The BIG EAST Championship.
BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year
Rick Jackson, Syracuse
BIG EAST Most Improved Player
Dwight Hardy, St. John’s
BIG EAST Sixth Man Award
Justin Burrell, St. John’s
BIG EAST Sportsmanship Award
Brad Wanamaker, Pittsburgh