John Paquette, Associate Commissioner, Sports Media Relations
BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year
Kris Dunn, Providence
BIG EAST Most Improved Player
Ben Bentil, Providence
BIG EAST Sixth Man Award
J.P. Macura, Xavier
BIG EAST Sportsmanship Award
Kellen Dunham, Butler
For the second year in a row, Providence guard Kris Dunn has earned BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year honors by a vote of the league's head coaches. The league also announced that Dunn's teammate, forward Ben Bentil, has been named BIG EAST Most Improved Player. Xavier's J.P. Macura has won the BIG EAST Sixth Man Award. Kellen Dunham of Butler has been selected for the BIG EAST Sportsmanship Award. The coaches were not permitted to vote for their own players.
The BIG EAST will announce Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Men's Basketball Scholar-Athlete at a press conference at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, March 9, at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Dunn, a 6-3 junior, has helped lead the Friars to a 22-9 record and a 10-8 BIG EAST mark. The overall win total is the highest for the Friars since the 1977-78 season. Dunn leads the league in steals for the second straight season, averaging 2.7 steals in all games. He has at least 32 more steals than any other player in the league. In BIG EAST play, his steals average of 2.4 also tops the league for a second straight season. With 205 career steals, he is one of seven PC players in school history with more than 200 steals. His steals average ranks third nationally. Dunn also averages 5.7 rebounds per game. He was the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year.
Bentil can be considered one of the most improved players in the nation, not just the BIG EAST. He leads the league in scoring with a 21.9 average and is fifth in rebounding at 5.5 after averaging only 6.4 points and 4.9 rebounds last year. He became the BIG EAST scoring champion by averaging 22.9 points in league play. This season, Bentil has scored at least 20 points in 19 of 31 games. His 42-point effort at Marquette on Feb. 10 was the highest scoring total by a BIG EAST player in any game this season.
Macura has given Xavier plenty of energy and scoring punch, while coming off the bench and contributing to the Musketeers' 26-4 regular season and 14-4 BIG EAST mark. The 6-5 sophomore has averaged 22.7 minutes per game and earned a reputation as a clutch shooter. In a 90-83 win against then-No. 1 Villanova on Feb. 24, Macura scored a game-high 19 points. He is averaging 9.5 points and 2.6 rebounds. Macura has made 81.2 percent from the foul line.
Dunham has been exemplary on the court for Butler with his basketball skills and his sportsmanlike behavior. He is averaging 16.2 points and is one of the league's top shooters. Dunham ranks second in the BIG EAST in 3-point shooting, making 41.4 percent. This season, he earned All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention recognition. A 6-6 senior, Dunham is a two-time All-BIG EAST Academic Team member.