Akin wins Sixth Man of the Year, Ashworth on First Team All-MW – Cache Valley Daily

LOGAN – The Mountain West All-Conference teams, both the official awards and those voted on by the league’s media, were released Monday and Tuesday and the second-place Utah State Aggies were solidly represented. Dan Akin earned Sixth Man of the Year in both with Steven Ashworth earning First Team All-Mountain West honors from the conference (named to the Second Team by the media). Max Shulga was an honorable mention all-conference selection.

The Mountain West Player of the Year was San Jose State guard Omari Moore and his coach, Tim Miles was named Coach of the Year. San Diego State’s Nathan Mensah won Defensive Player of the Year. Nevada’s Jarod Lucas earned Newcomer of the Year. And Darrion Williams was tabbed as the Freshman of the Year.

Akin played in all 31 of Utah State’s games this year but only started one game as an injury fill-in for Taylor Funk. Despite not being a starter, Akin led the team in rebounds (6.8 per game), was third in scoring (12.1) and fifth in minutes per game (27.1). The fifth-year senior has 66.5 percent from the field thus far, a mark that not only leads all qualified Aggies, but currently ranks second on Utah State’s single-season field goal percentage leaderboard behind only Nate Harris’ 2003-04 campaign (67.7). Akin also leads the team in double-doubles this year with six. Those six double-doubles also leads the NCAA in double-doubles as a bench player.

Ashworth led the Aggies in scoring (16.3), assists (4.7), steals (1.1) and 3-point percentage (45.0) this season despite spending the first third of the season as a bench player. His offensive prowess shows up not only in the basic stats where Ashworth is fifth in the country in 3-point percentage. Ashworth led the conference in five different Sports Reference metrics (Offensive Rating, Offensive Box Plus/Minus, Win Shares, Win Shares Per 40 Minutes, Offensive Win Shares) and was the top offensive player in the conference according to catch-all metrics from Barttorvik and EvanMiya.com. Not only was Ashworth the conference’s best offensive player (and sometimes the best overall player) based on those metrics, but each of the offensive-specific metrics rated the junior as a top ten offensive player in all of Division I basketball.

Shulga finished second on the Aggies in assists per game (4.0) and is seventh in assists per game in the Mountain West. He was also fourth on the Aggies in both scoring (12.1) and rebounds (4.5). The junior guard is one of just 30 players this season to average 12 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game.

Alongside Ashworth, five others were named to the conference’s First Team — Tyson Degenhart (Boise State), Isaiah Stevens (Colorado State), Jamal Mashburn (New Mexico), Matt Bradley (San Diego State), and Moore. The Second Team consisted of Max Rice (Boise State), Kenan Blackshear (Nevada), Jaelen House (New Mexico), EJ Harkless (UNLV), Hunter Maldonado (Wyoming), and Lucas. On the Third Team were Jake Heidbreder (Air Force), Marcus Shaver (Boise State), Will Baker (Nevada), Morris Udeze (New Mexico), Lamont Butler (San Diego State), and Mensah.

While the Mountain West’s coaches vote on the season awards, as they have since the 2015-16 season, the conference media members tallied their own votes and released their own awards as they have since being ousted from the official process. According to these voters Akin was the winner of Sixth Man of the Year. Ashworth received two Player of the Year votes but finished second to Moore and wound up narrowly missing out on First Team honors, instead being named to the Second Team. Taylor Funk was an honorable mention selection.

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