NCAA BK

Crowder, Heath take Big East awards

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NEW YORK (AP)

Jae Crowder fulfilled one of the goals he set for himself this season.

The 6-foot-6 senior from Marquette was selected the Big East Player of the Year on Tuesday.

''I was trying to be one of the premier guys in the league,'' he said.

He did it by being a versatile player who was a big part of the Golden Eagles finishing second in the conference and earning a top-10 ranking in the AP poll. Crowder averaged 17.6 points, third in the conference, 7.9 rebounds, ninth in the league and 2.1 steals, second in the Big East.

''I'm on any cloud number you want,'' he said. ''I'm in the atmosphere right now and the sky's the limit for us as a team. We're in a great position right now.''

Crowder credited fellow senior and first-team all-Big East selection Darius Johnson-Odom for him getting the individual award.

''He is a great reason I am here today,'' Crowder said. ''We practice so hard every day. This means a lot to me and it's something that will be with me the rest of my life.''

South Florida's Stan Heath was chosen the Coach of the Year. He led the Bulls, who were picked 14th in the preseason poll, to a 12-6 conference mark, the first winning record for the Bulls in their seven seasons in the Big East.

''I am having a fantastic time with these guys,'' Heath said. ''They don't mind being taught and being coached. An award like this means so much for the growth of our program.''

Heath won the Coach of the Year award in the Mid-American Conference when he was at Kent State.

''This is a different level from Kent State and that meant a lot,'' he said. ''This is from my peers in the best conference in the country.''

Moe Harkless of St. John's was chosen Rookie of the Year.

The 6-8 swingman was one of five freshmen starters for the Red Storm. He averaged 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds, which put him sixth and second, respectively, among freshmen nationally. The only other St. John's Rookie of the Year was David Russell in 1980, the conference's first season.

''It definitely means a lot to be honored like that, especially at St. John's, being only the second one,'' said Harkless, who had 25 points in the Red Storm's 73-59 opening-round loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. ''This group is really special. I feel like this award should be credited to all my teammates.''

As with all young players, the question came up about leaving school early for the NBA.

''I'm going to sit down and talk to my coaches and talk to my family,'' Harkless said. ''I don't know what I'm going to do yet That's every kid's dream, to go to the NBA. But I've still got to sit down with my coaches and my family.''

Notre Dame fifth-year senior Tim Abromaitis was selected the Big East Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the third straight season. He was limited to two games this season because of a knee injury but went on to complete his Master's degree.

Tagged: Marquette, Notre Dame, St. John's (NY), Jae Crowder

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