By Chris Duncan
The Associated Press
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Marquette junior guard Dwyane Wade, Conference USA's leading scorer, was named the league's player of the year on Wednesday after voting by the league's media and coaches. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard is averaging 21.9 points, 6.3 rebounds (18th in the league) and 2.26 steals per game (second in the league). He also has 35 blocked shots, tied for seventh in the league.
"I couldn't have this award if it wasn't for my teammates," Wade said. "I'm player of the year because of them. I'm happy and very honored."
Wade outdueled Louisville senior guard Reece Gaines for the award. The 6-6 Gaines outplayed Wade in the Cardinals' 73-70 win in Milwaukee on Feb. 15, scoring 20 points to Wade's 15. Gaines sank the game-winning 3-pointer with 5.5 seconds left.
Wade evened the score in Louisville two weeks later, scoring 28 points - 19 in the second half - with seven assists and eight rebounds in the Golden Eagles' 78-73 victory. Gaines had only 12.
No. 8 Marquette (23-4, 14-2) captured its first regular-season league championship this season.
The Golden Eagles have won 15 of their last 16 games, including their last five in a row. Wade has averaged 24.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game during the winning streak.
Wade was also named the league's defensive player of the year.
"I like to do things on the defensive end, because that's what makes you a complete player," Wade said. "That award, it can go to anybody on the team. I got it because of my steals and blocks. But I know my man can't beat me because I have help from my teammates."
Marquette coach Tom Crean, named the C-USA coach of the year, said the game that epitomized Wade's season was his worst game statistically.
Wade bruised his ribs during Marquette's 60-54 win over Saint Louis on Jan. 7. He sat out nine minutes, then returned to help his team snap a two-game losing streak. He finished with six points, two assists and two steals.
"He totally immersed himself in helping the team win," Crean said. "His greatest characteristic is the unselfishness he plays with."
Reece Gaines, Louisville; Chris Massie, Memphis; Marque Perry, Saint Louis; Dwyane Wade, Marquette; Louis Truscott, Houston.
Demon Brown, Charlotte; Travis Diener, Marquette; Morris Finley, UAB; Robert Jackson, Marquette; Leonard Stokes, Cincinnati.
Antonio Burks, Memphis; Charles Gaines, Southern Miss; Sam Hoskin, DePaul; Waitari Marsh, Tulane; Will McDonald, South Florida.
Coach of the Year: Tom Crean, Marquette.
Player of the Year: Dwyane Wade, Marquette
Freshman of the Year: Francisco Garcia, Louisville.
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