Michigan State men’s basketball forward Draymond Green was named the Big Ten Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year on Monday night. The 2012 NABC Division I Player of the Year and consensus First-Team All-American, Green is just the second Spartan to ever win the conference’s most prestigious individual award since its inception in 1982. Ryan Miller (ice hockey) was the first Michigan State recipient in 2001.
Green is just the fifth basketball player to win the award, joining Steve Alford (Indiana – 1987), Glen Rice (Michigan – 1989), Glenn Robinson (Purdue – 1994) and Evan Turner (Ohio State – 2010). The Big Ten Athletes of the Year are selected by a panel of conference media members from nominations submitted by each institution. Ohio State track athlete Christina Manning was named the Suzy Favor Female Athlete of the Year.
“Winning the Jesse Owens Award means a lot to me,” said Green. “It’s a great honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as Jesse Owens, one of the greatest athletes of all-time. The Big Ten is one of the most well-rounded conferences in the country, with great players and great teams across all the different sports competing for championships. To be the one male athlete selected out of that group is quite an accomplishment, but one that I didn’t reach alone. I wouldn’t be where I am or have received the honors that I have without help from all the different people surrounding me.
“To be mentioned in the same group with Ryan Miller, the only other Spartan to win the award, and the four other basketball players to have won the award is both crazy and humbling. They are all people who have already accomplished what I’m trying to.
“I’ve been blessed to accomplish a lot and receive some very prestigious honors. I just want to be remembered as a winner, a player who did whatever was needed to help his team win. That’s what I worked for every day that I was at Michigan State.”
The 6-foot-7, 230-pound forward became MSU’s first consensus first-team All-American since Cleaves did it in 1999, and just the fourth in school history, also joining Earvin “Magic” Johnson (1979) and Shawn Respert (1995). Green joins Scott Skiles (1986-Basketball Times) and Respert (1995-NABC and Sporting News) as the only Spartans to ever earn National Player of the Year honors. He earned First-Team All-America honors from the Associated Press, The Sporting News, United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA), the Wooden Award, CBSSports.com and the NABC. He also was named Big Ten Player of the Year and Most Outstanding Player of the Big Ten Tournament, and earned a spot on the NCAA West Regional All-Tournament Team.
“I’m very proud of Draymond,” said MSU men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo. “He’s been a great ambassador for Spartan basketball, Michigan State University, college basketball and the Big Ten Conference. He’s all about other people and making others better and being a good teammate. With his respect and admiration for the great athletes that have come before him, across all sports through the Big Ten, I know this honor means a lot to him. “
The Saginaw, Mich., native led the Spartans in scoring (16.2 ppg), rebounding (10.6 rpg), steals (54), and 3-point field goals (52), while ranking second in assists (3.8 apg) and blocks (36). On the season, he led MSU in rebounding in 31 of 37 games, including 16 of the 18 Big Ten contests.
In addition to finishing his career as MSU's all-time leading rebounder (1,096),he ranked 17th in career scoring (1,517 points), second in career blocks (117), second in career steals (180) and tied for the career lead with 145 games played. He also finished just 27 assists shy of breaking into the Top 10. He joins Greg Kelser and Johnny Green as the only players in Michigan State history to record 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 points in their careers.
On the season, Green ranked third in the nation with 22 double-doubles and ninth in rebounding (10.6 rpg). He finished the year with seven games of at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, tying Ohio State's Evan Turner (2009-10) for the most by a player from a power six conference since 1996-97. He also became the first player from a power six conference to average 15 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists in a season since Tim Duncan accomplished the feat in 1996-97.