March 17, 2008
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The 2008 Michigan State Men's Basketball Award Banquet was held Monday, March 17 at the Holiday Inn South in Lansing, Mich. Senior guard Drew Neitzel (Grand Rapids, Mich.) and sophomore forward Raymar Morgan (Canton, Ohio) have been named co-Team MVPs as voted on by members of the Spartan basketball program, while Neitzel was also the recipient of the media vote.
The Team MVP honor is another of many honors for Neitzel and Morgan. Neitzel, who has scored 1,502 points in his career, was named second-team Academic All-America by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) and was voted first-team All-Big Ten by the league's coaches and was a second-team pick by the media. He leads the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.91-to-1) while averaging 14.2 points per game. Neitzel was at his best in the Big Ten Tournament, averaging 27.0 points and shooting 10-for-22 from 3-point range in the two contests.
After a solid freshman campaign last season, Morgan, like Neitzel, has become one of the Big Ten's top players. The 6-7 forward is averaging a team-leading 14.5 points per game while ranking second on the team with 6.3 rebounds per game. He was a second-team All-Big Ten selection by both the Big Ten coaches and media, and was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Nov. 19 and Jan. 7. In addition, Morgan ranks fourth in the Big Ten by shooting 55.7 percent from the field.
Neitzel, along with fifth-year senior Drew Naymick (Muskegon, Mich.) and redshirt freshman Tom Herzog (Flint, Mich.) were the recipients of the team's Scholar Athlete Award. Neitzel, a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree as an interdisciplinary humanities major, is the fifth Academic All-American in MSU history. Naymick has already completed his undergraduate degree in finance, and is currently taking courses toward a Ph.D. in the field. Herzog, an engineering major, is enrolled in Michigan State's Honors College.
Naymick, who is Michigan State's all-time blocks leader with 131, received MSU's Unsung Player Award for the second consecutive season. Naymick, who has started 20 games this season, stands third in the Big Ten with 57 blocks (1.73). He ranked second in the conference in blocks in Big Ten games (2.11 per game). Naymick has also had his best offensive season, shooting 67.4 percent from the field and 81.5 percent at the free throw line.
Junior guard Travis Walton (Lima, Ohio), whom head coach Tom Izzo calls one of the best leaders in the program's recent years, won three team awards. Walton claimed the John E. Benington Best Defensive Player Award, the Antonio Smith Glue & Guts Award and the Stephen G. Scofes Inspirational Award. Walton, who was named to the All-Big Ten Defensive Team, won each of those three awards last season.
He has been a key part to the team's offensive success, leading the team and ranking second in the Big Ten with 4.5 assists per game. He is also second in the league, behind only Neitzel, in assist-to-turnover ratio.
Freshman guard Kalin Lucas (Sterling Heights, Mich.), who has started 14 games this season and ranks third on the team with 10.0 points per game, received MSU's Most Improved Player. Lucas was an honorable mention All-Big Ten pick this season and was one of the conference's top freshmen. He ranks fifth in the league in assists per game (3.79) and seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.84). Lucas came into his own in Big Ten play this season, raising his scoring average to 10.6 and shooting 82.6 percent at the free throw line.
Junior forward Goran Suton was honored with the team's Chairman of the Boards Award after leading the Spartans with 8.1 rebounds per game. His rebounding average is the second-highest in the Big Ten. His most impressive rebounding effort came on Nov. 24 against Oakland, when he grabbed 20 boards in addition to his 15 points. In the process, he became the first Spartan since Kevin Willis in 1983 to grab 20 rebounds in a single game. Suton had 10 double-digit rebounding efforts and eight double-doubles. In addition, he ranks fifth in the conference in field goal percentage (.530) and 11th in blocks (0.94).
Freshman guard Mike Kebler (Okemos, Mich.) was this year's recipient of the Tim Bograkos Walk-On Award. Nick Holmberg and Paul Izzo received the Senior Manager Award and Connie Skidmore and Terry Fossum were honored with the team's Special Recognition Award.