Wichita State's Fred VanVleet wins Missouri Valley Player of the Year

By Matt Norlander | Staff Writer

C (USATSI)
Fred VanVleet became the second sophomore in MVC history to win Player of the Year. (USATSI)

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I love the name of the Missouri Valley's regular-season MVP award: The Larry Bird Player of the Year.

Undefeated Wichita State was obviously going to have a player nab the honor. But it wasn't Cleanthony Early or Ron Baker, two studs who've been vital to WSU's run to 31-0. Instead, little-known (though that's soon to change) sophomore point guard Fred VanVleet earned the award.

VanVleet joins Antoine Carr (1983), Xavier McDaniel (1984, '85) and Paul Miller (2006) as the only Shockers to win the award. He earned 22 of 36 first-place votes, the rest taken up by Early and Baker. It's the first time an MVC team has had three players from the same team occupy the top three spots in the voting.

VanVleet is the second sophomore in league history to win the award. Doug McDermott won it in 2012. Averaging 11.9 points, 5.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.3 turnovers, VanVleet's 4.0 assist-to-turnover ration is among the best in the country.

Wichita State also got love for Defensive Player of the Year, as Tekele Cotton won it. Cotton averages 1.4 stals per game, which happens to be lower than VanVleet's 1.9 clip.

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