NEW YORK – St. John’s junior Justin Simon has been named BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year. DePaul sophomore Paul Reed has been selected BIG EAST Most Improved Player. Butler senior guard Paul Jorgensen has been tabbed for the BIG EAST Sixth Man of the Year Award. Jorgensen’s teammate, center Nate Fowler, has been recognized to receive the BIG EAST Sportsmanship Award.
The league’s head coaches choose the award winners and they are not permitted to vote for their own players.
The BIG EAST will announce the remaining individual awards: Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Freshman of the Year and outstanding Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete at a press conference at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, March 13, at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Simon, a 6-5 junior from Temecula, Calif., has started 30 of 31 games for St. John’s, which enters this week’s BIG EAST Tournament with a 20-11 record. In a league that features many high-scoring guards this season, Simon always draws the most difficult assignment and regularly holds opponents under their scoring averages. He ranks seventh in the BIG EAST in steals with a 1.4 average and helps the Red Storm lead the league in steals with an 8.5 team average in conference games and a league-leading 4.3 turnover margin. On the other side of the ball, Simon averages 10.0 points.
Reed, a 6-9 sophomore from Orlando, Fla., has been an important factor in the Blue Demons’ rise to 15-14 overall and 7-11 in the BIG EAST. The forward is averaging 11.2 points and 8.2 rebounds while starting 21 of 28 games. His rebound mark ranks first in the BIG EAST and, in league games, his 9.0 rebound average makes him the BIG EAST’s rebounding champion. Also in league play, he is second in free throw shooting, making 91.7 percent. Last year, Reed averaged 3.6 points and 3.1 rebounds while playing only 9.9 minutes per game.
Jorgensen has helped Butler this season in a sixth-man role with his 11.8 scoring average, which ranks second on the team. The senior guard from New City, N.Y., started only three of 18 BIG EAST games. He also ranks second on the team in 3-pointers made with 68 and second in 3-point shooting, hitting at a 38.9 percent clip. Jorgensen reached double figures in nine of the final 10 league games of the regular season.
Fowler, a senior from Cincinnati, Ohio, has participated in several of Butler’s community service initiatives. Through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, he has taken an active role in the “adopting” of elementary-aged Seth Dennison as a teammate. Dennison has a rare Chromosome deletion, but interacts with players at team events. Fowler’s volunteer service includes participation in several other programs. In the classroom, he is a Dean’s List student with a 3.6 GPA working toward a dual major in Mechanical Engineering and Economics. On the court, the 6-10 center is averaging 5.4 points and 3.6 rebounds while starting 18 games. A Butler player has won the Sportsmanship Award in four of the last six years.
BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year
Justin Simon, St. John’s
BIG EAST Most Improved Player
Paul Reed, DePaul
BIG EAST Sixth Man Award
Paul Jorgensen, Butler
BIG EAST Sportsmanship Award
Nate Fowler, Butler
— Staff Report from Official News Release