Two days after earning a share of the Big Ten championship, five members of the Michigan State Spartans earned individual honors, headlined by Cassius Winston.
The Spartans guard received the Player of the Year award in addition to being a unanimous selection to both the media and coaches first-team All-Big Ten. But Winston was quickly joined by Nick Ward, Matt McQuaid, Kenny Goins and Xavier Tillman, who all received accolades.
Despite missing the final five games of the regular season, Ward was named to the third-team All-Big Ten by both the media and coaches. Ward finished the regular season averaging 15 points-per-game on 60-percent shooting with 6.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. The junior forward is likely to return from his hand injury for the start of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday.
During his press conference on Monday before the honors were announced, head coach Tom Izzo said he was anxious to get Ward back on the court, even if it was in a limited capacity. Even in his absence, Izzo was complimentary of how Ward pushed his teammates, working with the big men during games.
The 2018-19 #B1GMBBall All-Big Ten Third Team as selected by conference coaches and media. pic.twitter.com/jdLIKOVIo4— Big Ten Men's Hoops (@B1GMBBall) March 11, 2019
Both Goins and McQuaid were named All-Big Ten honorable mentions. Additionally, McQuaid made the All-Defense team. McQuaid was regularly taxed with defending the best guard on the opposing team, especially after losing Joshua Langford early in the season. Proving his worth as a two-way player, McQuaid averaged 9.4 points, 2.3 assits, 3.3 rebounds and had a career high 64 steals on the season.
Goins came on late, becoming a force for MSU, averaging 8.3 points and 9.1 rebounds. His three-point shooting became a huge weapon for MSU, hitting on 39 percent of his shots from deep. That was especially impactful late in the season, after making only 11 threes through the first 18 games, Goins made 33 of 71 over the final 13 games.
When Ward left with his injury, Tillman joined Goins in the MSU front-court, more than keeping the Spartans afloat. Due in large-part to his bigger role on the team, Tillman earned the Sixth Man award.
Xavier Tillman of @MSU_Basketball selected as the 2018-19 #B1GMBBall Sixth Man of the Year. pic.twitter.com/6HLI1JY24z— Big Ten Men's Hoops (@B1GMBBall) March 11, 2019
Tillman averaged nine points and seven rebounds during his 31 games this season, coming off the bench all but six times. He was used both alongside and behind Ward and Goins, allowing Izzo to keep his front court fresh through most of the season. The sophomore played even better when given the opportunity to start. Tillman jumped his average to 14.4 points in the final five games.
Izzo’s bid for Coach of the Year fell short to Purdue’s Matt Painter.