By John Bohnenkamp
Keegan Murray’s numbers would be good enough to win the Big Ten’s player of the year in most years.
But in a year in which the conference is top-heavy in talent, the Iowa sophomore forward had to settle for being a unanimous All-Big Ten first-team pick.
Murray was named to the first team by the media and the coaches on Tuesday, the seventh Hawkeye to receive first-team honors in the last nine seasons.
Murray ranks fourth nationally in scoring at 23.3 points per game, the most among players from a major conference. He is a 55.4 percent shooter who has had nine double-doubles this season.
But Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis, who averaged 20 points per game this season for the conference co-champion Badgers, was named the player of the year by the coaches and the media.
Davis, Murray and Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn were unanimous first-team picks by the coaches, while Murray and Cockburn were unanimous picks by the media. Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell and Purdue’s Jaden Ivey also were first-team picks.
“Yeah, you could have gone a lot of ways with that first team,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “Even the second team is pretty special. So we are happy he was on it.”
Murray was also a unanimous first-team all-conference pick by the Associated Press on Monday.
“I feel like it’s a big honor, just from where I started here at Iowa until now,” Murray said of the awards. “I’m just appreciative of that, and everything that comes with it. It’s a testament to a lot of hard work.”
Murray is the only player nationally to average 23 or more points, eight or more rebounds, and two or more blocks this season, and one of three players from a major conference with those averages over the last decade.
Murray, who averaged 7.2 points last season, had a 16.1-point increase in his average this season. The last Big Ten player to increase his scoring by 16 points per game from one season to the next was Illinois’ Rick Schmidt, who went from 3.8 points in 1972-73 to 21.4 points the next season.
Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon was an honorable-mention selection, the fifth all-conference honor of his career. Forward Patrick McCaffery was named the team’s sportsmanship winner.
Wisconsin’s Greg Gard was named the conference’s coach of the year. The coaches selected Rutgers’ Caleb McConnell as defensive player of the year, and Ohio State’s Malaki Branham was named the freshman of the year by the coaches and the media.
Photo: Iowa’s Keegan Murray was a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection on Tuesday. (Brian Ray/hawkeyesports.com)