Gary Wilkinson Named WAC Player Of The Year, Stew Morrill Named WAC Coach Of The Year, While Jared Quayle Earns Second-Team All-WAC Honors
March 8, 2009
LOGAN, Utah - After a dominating regular season that saw Utah State finish 27-4 overall and 14-2 in Western Athletic Conference play, the league office announced its postseason honors on Sunday and USU was well represented as three individuals were honored in all.
Gary Wilkinson was named the WAC's Player of the Year, Stew Morrill was named the Don Haskins Coach of the Year, and Jared Quayle was named to the league's second-team and all-newcomer team after Utah State won its second-straight WAC regular season championship, including its first-ever outright WAC title this year.
Wilkinson, a 6-9 senior forward from South Jordan, Utah (Bingham HS/Salt Lake CC) becomes the fifth player in school history to earn conference player of the year honors joining Dean Hunger (1980), Greg Grant (1986), Eric Franson (1995) and Jaycee Carroll (2008). It is also the first time in school history that USU has had back-to-back conference players of the year.
Wilkinson, who was tabbed by the media as the league's preseason player of the year, earned first-team all-WAC honors for the first time after being named second-team all-conference a year ago. He was also named to the league's all-newcomer team last season in his first year at Utah State.
"The player of the year usually comes from the team that wins the league and for Gary to win the award is a credit to both him and his teammates," said Morrill. "When the year started and the media picked Gary to be the preseason player of the year, I told him if we were good enough to win a league title that would give him a chance at the honor, and he had to be a player of the year candidate for us to have a chance to win the league."
Utah State has now had 16 first-team all-conference selections over the last 10 years, and it is the 10th straight year that USU has had at least one first-team all-league selection. Overall, Utah State has had 28 first-team all-conference selections in the last 31 years, as it was a member of the Big West Conference/Pacific Coast Athletic Association for 27 seasons (1979-2005) before joining the WAC prior to the 2005-06 academic year.
Morrill has now been named coach of the year in his respective conference four times during his illustrious career as he was named the Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year in 1991 while at Montana, and the Big West Conference Coach of the Year in 2000 and 2002 while at Utah State.
"You are always honored and humbled when your peers recognize you," stated Morrill. "This award is special and probably means a little more to me with all the years I have coached in the WAC and have never received that honor before."
Wilkinson, who has started all 66 games in his Utah State career, currently ranks second in the WAC in scoring with 16.9 points and sixth in rebounding with 7.1 boards per game. He also ranks third in both field goal (.591) and free throw shooting (.836).
Quayle, a 6-1 junior guard from Perry, Utah (Box Elder HS/Western Wyoming CC), ranks third in the WAC in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.09), fifth in steals (1.45), sixth in assists (3.77), seventh in free throw shooting (.768), 11th in scoring (12.9) and 14th in rebounding (5.7).
"Jared made tremendous strides from the start of the season to how he finished," Morrill said. "He made some many plays for us during the year when games were on the line, and he is very deserving of the recognition of being named to the all-conference and all-newcomer teams."
Utah State (27-4, 14-2) is the top seed in the upcoming WAC Tournament in Reno, Nev., and will play either Hawai'i (13-16, 5-11) or Fresno State (12-20, 3-13) in the quarterfinals on Thursday, Mar. 12 at 3:30 p.m. (MT) in a game that will be televised live on ESPNU. The Rainbow Warriors and Bulldogs will start the tournament with the play-in game Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. (MT).
2008-09 WAC Men's Basketball Postseason Award Winners