April 15, 2009
LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State's men's basketball team held its annual postseason banquet Wednesday, honoring the 2008-09 team that set a school record with 30 wins, won both the Western Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championship, and played in the school's 18th NCAA Tournament all-time. Along with handing out individual awards, a highlight video recapping the year was shown.
With its 30-5 record and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament, Utah State extended a pair of school records as it posted its 10th straight 20-win season and advanced to postseason play for the 10th straight year. USU is one of just three teams in the nation to win at least 23 games in each of the last 10 seasons along with Gonzaga and Kansas, and its string of 10 straight postseasons is tied for the 15th-longest active streak in the nation.
Utah State began the year by winning 24 of its first 25 games, which is the best start to a season in school history, won 19 straight games from December to February to tie a school record, and was nationally ranked for three straight weeks during the month of February.
During the banquet, Utah State recognized six players who were honored by the WAC during the course of the season in senior forward Gary Wilkinson, junior guards Jared Quayle and Stavon Williams, sophomore guard Tyler Newbold, and sophomore forwards Matt Formisano and Tai Wesley, while sophomore guard Pooh Williams was honored by his teammates.
Wilkinson became just the fifth player in school history to earn conference player of the year honors as he averaged 17.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, while ranking second in the WAC in scoring and free throw shooting (.826), fourth in field goal shooting (.580), and sixth in rebounding. He also became just the third player in school history to earn All-American honors from the Associated Press, joining Wayne Estes and Jaycee Carroll, as he was named to the honorable mention team.
Wilkinson was also named the WAC's Player of the Week three times during the year and the Most Valuable Player of the WAC Tournament as he averaged 19.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in three games.
Quayle was named to the WAC's second-team and all-newcomer team in his first year at Utah State after averaging 13.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, while ranking third in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.05), sixth in both assists and steals (1.43), seventh in free throw shooting (.764), eighth in three-point shooting (.388), 11th in scoring and 12th in rebounding. Quayle also earned WAC Player of the Week honors once during the season, and was named to the WAC's all-tournament team after averaging 13.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
Sophomore forward Tai Wesley was also named to the WAC's all-tournament team this year after averaging 10.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game.
Utah State also had a WAC-best five players earn academic all-conference honors this year in Formisano, Newbold, Quayle, Wilkinson and Stavon Williams. Formisano, Newbold and Wilkinson all earned academic all-WAC honors for the second straight year. Under Coach Morrill, Utah State has now had 13 players earn academic all-conference honors a total of 20 times.
As for team honors, Wilkinson was voted the Most Valuable Player, which is named in honor of the late H. Cecil Baker who played at Utah State from 1923-25 and later coached at USU from 1951-61. Wilkinson was also presented the eighth annual Varsity Award by the Big Blue Scholarship Fund which is annually given to a senior who best represents outstanding achievement in academic, athletics and community service.
Wesley, who averaged 12.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game during the season, was named the Most Inspirational Player, while Newbold and Quayle were both named the player that Best Represents Aggie Basketball, and Pooh Williams was named the team's Defensive Player of the Year.
Utah State Team Honors H. Cecil Baker Most Valuable Player - Gary Wilkinson Most Inspirational - Tai Wesley Best Defensive Player - Pooh Williams Best Represents Aggie Basketball - Tyler Newbold & Jared Quayle Big Blue Scholarship Fund Varsity Award - Gary Wilkinson
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