Michigan’s Stauskas named Big Ten Player of the Year

Nik Stauskas wasn't even expected to be Michigan's best player this season.

Mike Carter/Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan’s got a streak going.

After 24 years without a Big Ten Player of the Year, the Wolverines now have two in a row. Nik Stauskas won the award Monday night, one year after Trey Burke ended the drought that followed Glen Rice’s victory in 1989.

Stauskas — picked by both the coaches and media as the conference’s top player — wasn’t even expected to be Michigan’s best player this season. Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III got all the preseason accolades.

McGary then missed most of the season because of a back injury, and Robinson never took the big step forward people expected.

Intsead, it was a skinny kid from Ontario who transformed himself from a streaky 3-point shooter into the conference’s best player.

A year ago, Stauskas was devastated by his poor performance in the national-championship game, where he scored three points. That led to an offseason in the gym, usually with Michigan’s other blossoming star, Caris LeVert.

When the season started, Stauskas was a consistent threat from the outside, hitting more than 45 percent of his 3-pointers. Now he’s developed into a more complete player.

When opponents try to get in his face to stop his outside shot, Stauskas is perfectly happy to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket for a startling dunk. If a post defender cuts off him off from the rim, his improved passing skills allow him to find Jordan Morgan or Robinson for an easy basket.

He’s averaging 17.4 points, 3.4 assists and 3.3 rebounds heading into the conference tournament.

"Dreams really do come true!," Stauskas tweeted moments after the award was announced. "Thank you to my teammates, coaches, friends and family for supporting me through everything! #GoBlue"

More important for Michigan fans, Stauskas said he has "no clue" about leaving for the NBA. He’s not expected to make a decision until after the Wolverines finish postseason play.

Stauskas was also a unanimous selection by both the media and coaches for First Team All-Big Ten.

He wasn’t the only big winner of the night, though. The media named Michigan’s John Beilein the conference’s top coach.

The coaches picked Nebraska’s Tim Miles over Beilein.