Winston wins Big Ten POTY, becomes ninth Spartan to win award

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Winston wins Big Ten POTY, becomes ninth Spartan to win award

Photo: Andrew Herner/WDBM

Photo: Andrew Herner/WDBM

Photo: Andrew Herner/WDBM

Photo: Andrew Herner/WDBM

Julian Mitchell, Men's Basketball Beat Reporter

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Another year, another Big Ten basketball season is in the books and with the end of the season comes the end of the year awards. This season the name that tops the list is Michigan State junior guard Cassius Winston who was named the conference’s Player of the Year on Monday.

Winston becomes the ninth Spartan to win the award, the most in the conference with Ohio State behind them at seven honorees. The last Spartan to bring the award home was Denzel Valentine who won it in the 2015-16 season.

The news comes on the heels of what was a terrific 2018-2019 campaign for the Spartan guard. In his junior season, Winston averaged 19 points, 3.1 rebounds and 7.6 assists while shooting 47 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3-point range in 33 minutes per game.

He’s now just one of the 18 Division 1 players to average 18 points and seven assists throughout the regular season, a list which includes Valentine. Winston is also the only player in the country to average 18 points, seven assists and shoot at least 40 percent from 3-point land.

Winston’s play propelled the Spartans to a 25-6 overall record and a 16-4 record in the Big Ten, with Michigan State winning back to back Big Ten regular-season titles on Saturday night.

What set Winston apart from other candidates is how he performed when the Spartans lost guard Joshua Langford for the season and forward Nick Ward in the last five games of the regular season. Losing those two was a big loss for Michigan State as they accounted for 30 points per game combined.

Without both of them, Winston led a shorthanded team to a season sweep of in-state rival Michigan, one away at the Crisler Center and the other at home to clinch a share of the Big Ten title.

The junior guard was superb in both games, finishing with 27 points and 8 assists on 7-of-13 shooting in the first meeting and 23 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds on 7-of-17 shooting last Saturday. The second meeting decided who would earn a share of the Big Ten title with Purdue, and on the biggest stage, Winston shined bright.

Winston has been the key that starts the engine to this Michigan State team all season and now as a one-seed in this year’s Big Ten Tournament, he’ll look to guide the Spartans to a conference championship. Impact will have live coverage all weekend online @WDBMSports and on 88.9 FM in the Lansing area.