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March 13, 2013
Western Michigan's men's basketball team had a surprisingly successful season in 2012-13, and it showed in the post-season awards voting as four Broncos were honored by the Mid-American Conference.
Darius Paul earned perhaps the most prestigious honor, as he took home the MAC's Freshman of the Year Award after a season in which he led all first-year players with 10.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest.
Booker James, Ben Reed and David Kool have all won the honor in the past, boding well for Paul if he is able to reach the high bar set by those three players.
"I'm very proud of Darius and very excited for him," Western Michigan head coach Steve Hawkins said. "I think it's an honor that is richly deserved. As the leading scorer and rebounder among freshmen through the entire season, he showed the ability to remain consistent and solid all year round. We are very proud of him and his progress."
Central Michigan's Chris Fowler, Buffalo's Jarryn Skeete, and Miami's Reggie Johnson also received votes, though Paul's 18 votes were 15 more than second-place Fowler.
David Brown was also honored, winning the MAC's Sixth Man of the Year and becoming the second Bronco to do so after Reggie Berry in 2004.
Brown was almost a no-brainer for the selection, as he was the only player to average in double-figures without starting a game for his team.
In addition to his 10.4 points per game, Brown was invaluable to the Broncos on defense over his seventeen games played. Despite missing the entire non-conference slate due to injury, Brown racked up 26 steals, more than any other WMU player, and was often matched up against other teams' top guards.
"David could have been eligible for a number of awards; if there was a Comeback Player of the Year award, I think he'd have it hands down." Hawkins said. "Because of his injury he wasn't able to play until the first conference game of the year; he didn't even get to go through preseason conditioning. For him to get to the level that he did with such little time to get into game shape shows his dedication and his courage."
In addition, two Broncos were honored by the MAC in putting together their all-conference team, as center Shayne Whittington earned second team All-MAC and forward Nate Hutcheson was given an honorable mention.
Whittington led WMU all season long with 12.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, and put together an impressive 11 double-doubles on the year. He also became a force down low on the defensive side, leading the Broncos far and away with 48 blocks on the year.
Though it was not a surprise that Akron's Zeke Marshall edged Whittington out for first-team honors, the Paw Paw, Mich. native has to be considered the favorite at the center position in 2013-14.
Hutcheson, a senior, averaged 10.3 points in his final season as a Bronco and eclipsed the 1000-point mark despite being more known for his defense than his scoring ability.
While his scoring and rebounding (4.8 per game) totals were certainly nothing to dismiss, it was still Hutcheson's defensive ability that brought the most value to the table as he was routinely matched up against the opposition's best scorer.
WMU will return to the court Thursday evening at 9:00pm EDT in Cleveland as they take on the winner of tonight's game between Eastern Michigan and Miami.
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