SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara's Alan Williams has been named the 2014 Big West Player of the Year and three other Gauchos have also been honored, the league announced Monday.
Williams, who was also selected to the First Team All-Conference for the second straight year, was the league's scoring (21.6 ppg) and rebounding (11.6 rpg) leader. He also leads NCAA Division I in rebounding and is 12th in scoring. In addition, Williams tied the conference record by being named Big West Player of the Week five times.
"There was no doubt," said Gaucho head coach Bob Williams. "He was the best player on a team that contended for a league championship. Al has been so dominant that a bad game for him would be a good game for anyone else. Night-in, night-out he has performed for us."
Williams has led UCSB to a 21-8 overall record and a 12-4 mark in Big West play. He missed a pair of losses early in the season, but in the 27 games in which he has played, UCSB has gone 21-6.
"Actually, it's been really rewarding to watch his growth as a player and as a team-leader," said Coach Williams. "He is a very special player and deserves this recognition."
Statistically, Williams has had one of the best seasons in UCSB history and is ranked among the school's single season top-10 in scoring average (3rd at 21.6 ppg), points (7th with 582), rebound average (3rd at 11.6), rebounds (3rd with 312), blocked shots (3rd with 66), field goals (4th with 217), field goal attempts (8th with 403), free throws (7th with 148) and free throw attempts (3rd with 215). He enters the postseason with 15 double-doubles in 2013-14. Williams also tied the school record for points in a game with 39 on Nov. 29 against South Dakota State and on Feb. 1 against UC Davis, he became the first UCSB player in more than 24 years to have 20 or more points and 20 or more rebounds in a game when he had 27 points and 20 rebounds.
Williams is the sixth Gaucho to earn Player of the Year honors. He joins Brian Shaw (1988), Lucius Davis (1992), Branduinn Fullove (2003), Alex Harris (2008) and Orlando Johnson (2010) on the list.
Michael Bryson and Zalmico Harmon joined Williams on the all-conference team with each earning Honorable Mention All-Big West status. Harmon was also recognized as the league's Hustle Player of the Year, while senior Kyle Boswell repeated as Big West Sixth Man of the Year.
Harmon, UCSB's starting point guard in all 29 games, enters postseason play averaging 8.1 points, 5.2 assists and 0.6 steals per game. He ranks second in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio at 4.69-to-1 and, according to Bob Williams, was the single biggest difference-maker for the Gauchos between a 2012-13 team that went 11-20 and this season's 21-8 group.
"Nobody, including our MVP, deserves more credit for our turnaround than Zalmico," Coach Williams said. "Day-in, day-out, his dedication and commitment to doing the things it takes to make this team better is astounding. His toughness and effort have been inspirational to this group.
Harmon is the third UCSB player to win the Hustle Player of the Year Award, joining Chris Devine (2008) and Nick Jones (2003).
Bryson enters postseason averaging 11.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. He has made 50 three-point baskets and closed the regular season with a rush, scoring in double-figures nine of the last 10 games.
"Michael is a guy that effects the game in so many different ways," Coach Williams said. "He is a good, versatile defender and he can guard the two, three or four. He is a good rebounder, good in transition, dynamic to the rim, and he can make the three. Michael has improved his game so much, and he 's also sacrificed his game to help this team succeed."
Boswell was named Big West Sixth Man of the Year in 2013 and he has repeated in 2014. UCSB's Big West Male Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2013 and 2014, Boswell enters the league tournament averaging 10.7 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He is also the team's top outside scoring threat with 73 three-pointers. Boswell has played in all 29 of the Gauchos' games, but he has only started five.
"Boz gets all the recognition and honors as a true student-athlete, and he is very deserving," Coach Williams said. "He could easily have been a starter, but opted for the sixth man position and the effect he's had on us coming off the bench has been huge. Kyle is a sparkplug and really offers a different dynamic for us when he is in the game. What he's done for this team is irreplaceable."
Second-seeded UCSB open play at Honda Center in Anaheim in the Big West Conference Tournament at noon on Thursday, Mar. 13 when they play Cal Poly. The game can be watched live on Fox Sports Prime Ticket or listened to on AM 1290 KZSB in Santa Barbara, or on UCSBgauchos.com.