Matt Haarms named Defensive POY as BYU basketball takes 4 West Coast Conference honors

(Nate Edwards, BYU Photo)

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PROVO — Matt Haarms left a mark on BYU basketball in his lone season in Provo.

The Purdue transfer also left a mark on the West Coast Conference, being named Defensive Player of the Year by league coaches Tuesday to break up an otherwise Gonzaga sweep of the conference's major annual awards.

Gonzaga's Corey Kispert was named WCC Player of the Year, Jalen Suggs earned Newcomer of the Year honors, Andrew Nembhard was Sixth Man of the Year, and Mark Few took Coach of the Year honors for the WCC-record 14th time in his career.

And why not? The Zags (24-0, 15-0 WCC) are in the middle of a generational season, ranked No. 1 in the country and the only undefeated team nationally since Baylor's loss to Kansas on Saturday.

Kispert was the focal point of the offense in his fourth season, and will graduate from Gonzaga as the winningest player in program history with at least a 119-10 record. The senior All-American averaged 18.5 points on 42.7% shooting from 3-point range, and was one of several key contributors in the nation's top offense that also featured Cousy Award finalist Suggs and Florida transfer Nembhard.

"They're just so good in the back court," ESPN's Dick Vitale said of the Zags. "They really buy into Mark Few's philosophy and play so efficient offensively. They're the most efficient team in college basketball on the offensive end."

But Haarms was an immediate impact transfer himself, retooling a squad that lost seven seniors a year ago on the fly en route to averaging 10.9 points and 4.7 rebounds on 57.1% shooting to go along with 5.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per night. His 253 blocked shots in 2020-21 ranks second among active NCAA rim protectors, leading to BYU's first conference defensive player of the year since Jackson Emery won the award in the Mountain West in 2011.

Haarms owns the second-best single-game record for consecutive field goals in BYU history, and the best since Kresimir Cosic in 1971.

Alex Barcello was named first-team all-conference, while Haarms and fellow graduate senior Brandon Averette were second-team selections, and Caleb Lohner was named to the All-WCC freshman team.

Barcello led the Cougars in scoring all season with 15.7 points per game, scoring in double figures 19 times in 24 games. He set a BYU record in the final week of the regular season with a 7-for-7 3-point performance against San Francisco, and is shooting 48.9% from beyond the arc to rank. No. 9 nationally.

Averette owns BYU's highest single-game scoring output with his 30 points against Texas Southern in a season he averaged 11.4 points, 3.7 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game. The motor of the Cougars' prolific offense, Averette has reached double figures in seven consecutive contests and nine of the last 10.

A Dallas native who prepped for his cousin David Evans at Wasatch Academy, Lohner worked his way into the starting five of Mark Pope's lineup by the end of the season, when he averaged a team-best 6.8 rebounds per game to go along with his 7.6 points. A two-time WCC freshman of the week, Lohner poured in a career-high 19 points against Pacific as BYU hit the home stretch of the regular season to begin turning on all cylinders.

BYU, which wrapped up senior night with a win over Saint Mary's, will open the West Coast Conference basketball tournament as the No. 2 seed next Monday, March 8 at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The Cougars will face the winner of Saturday's quarterfinal, which could be any of No. 3 Pepperdine, No. 6 Pacific, No. 7 Santa Clara or No. 10 Portland. Tipoff on ESPN2 is scheduled by 9 p.m. PT.

West Coast Conference WBB honors

2020-21 All-WCC Men's Basketball Major Individual Honors

Player of the Year: Corey Kispert, Gonzaga

Coach of the Year: Mark Few, Gonzaga

Defensive Player of the Year: Matt Haarms, BYU

Newcomer of the Year: Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga

Sixth Man of the Year: Andrew Nembhard, Gonzaga

2020-21 All-WCC Men's Basketball First Team

Joel Ayayi, Gonzaga

Alex Barcello, BYU

Jamaree Bouyea, San Francisco

Kessler Edwards, Pepperdine

Corey Kispert, Gonzaga

Colbey Ross, Pepperdine

Eli Scott, LMU

Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga

Drew Timme, Gonzaga

Josip Vrankic, Santa Clara

2020-21 All-WCC Men's Basketball Second Team

Brandon Averette, BYU

Matt Haarms, BYU

Logan Johnson, Saint Mary's

Andrew Nembhard, Gonzaga

Khalil Shabazz, San Francisco

2020-21 All-WCC Men's Basketball Freshman Team

Jalin Anderson, LMU

Oumar Ballo, Gonzaga

Caleb Lohner, BYU

Mitchell Saxen, Saint Mary's

Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga

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