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Bobbitt wins Big West Defensive Player of the Year

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Hawaii basketball point guard Roderick Bobbitt was named the Big West Defensive Player of the Year in conference awards announced Monday morning.

Bobbitt, the national leader in steals with 95, is the first UH player to receive the award. He was also named to the All-Big West second team. The junior led the league in both assists per game (5.4) and steals per game (3.0).

Bobbitt arrived at UH last summer out of Indian Hills (Iowa) Community College, where he led the junior college ranks in steals. The 6-foot-3 junior became just the second player in recorded UH history to notch a triple-double, against Hawaii Hilo on Nov. 19.

“I thought that was a great situation for him (this season),” UH coach Benjy Taylor said in a phone interview. “I thought he played consistently, he’s the only guy on our roster that’s played the entire season, the entire game, every game. He’s certainly deserving of both of those awards. We had a lot of guys up for some other awards, but the injury bug really hurt us and hurt their chances to win some other awards. But you know, for us to finish (fifth) with everything that’s happened this year, and only have one guy second team, it’s a real tribute to the entire team and how balanced we are.”

Forwards Aaron Valdes and Stefan Jankovic were named all-league honorable mentions.

No players for fifth-place UH were named to the first team.

UC Davis’ Corey Hawkins was named the Big West Player of the Year and the first-place Aggies’ Jim Les was the Coach of the Year.

Besides Hawkins, the first team was comprised of Alan Williams and Michael Bryson of UC Santa Barbara; Mike Caffey of Long Beach State; Will Davis II of UC Irvine; and Taylor Johns of UC Riverside.

Bobbitt, who is on the cusp of becoming just the fourth Big West player to accumulate 100 steals in a season, was joined on the second team by Brian Bennett of Cal Poly; Jaylen Bland of Riverside; Stephan Hicks of Cal State Northridge; and Josh Ritchart of UC Davis. 

Bland was the Newcomer of the Year and UCSB’s Gabe Vincent was the Freshman of the Year. UC Davis’ Josh Fox was the Best Sixth Player and UCSB point guard Zalmico Harmon was the Best Hustle Player.

Taylor said guard Isaac Fleming “had a real good chance” for the sixth man and freshman awards, but said Fleming’s late-season ankle sprain, which caused him to miss three games, hurt his bids.

“Jaylen Bland had an outstanding year for Riverside and Gabe Vincent came in and gave us 20-something points,” Taylor said. “He was deserving of that award too, but (our) guys are going to continue to work and get better, and we’re going to continue to progress.”

UH (20-12, 8-8 Big West) opens play in the Big West tournament on Thursday against fourth-seeded Long Beach State at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

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