It’s been a really good week for members of the Michigan State Spartans.
Sunday afternoon, the Spartans celebrated senior day in front of a raucous crowd with an impressive win over the Ohio State Buckeyes to win a share of the Big Ten championship. Less than 24 hours later, a few of the biggest members of that team are getting individual recognition for what they did to get the team to the top of the Big Ten.
Conference awards were given out Monday. As expected, senior star point guard Cassius Winston was named to the All-Big Ten first team by both the coaches and media. Winston was one of four players to be named to the first team by both groups.
His running mate, Xavier Tillman, didn’t have to wait long to hear his name called as well. Tillman was named to the All-Big Ten second team, again by both the media and coaches.
But Tillman’s day wasn’t over. He also earned the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award. Tillman emerged as a force on the defensive end in a conference full of dominant big men. He has averaged more than 10 rebounds a game and has 65 blocks on the year. Tillman held opponents Kofi Cockburn, Jalen Smith, Luka Garza and Kaleb Wesson to 20 points or fewer. Of course, Tillman also landed a spot on the Big Ten’s All-Defensive team
Additionally, Tillman was named second team academic All-American. The communications major has a 3.627 GPA. He’s been on the Dean’s List four times and was the recipient of the Scholar-Athlete Award this year.
Joining Tillman and Winston on the awards list was freshman Rocket Watts who followed up his Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor by being named to the conference’s All-Freshman team.
Watts has emerged as the team’s most reliable third option as well as drawing often the most difficult backcourt defensive duties. The true-freshman has averaged nine points this season, nearly 18 points over the last four games.