Van Vleet The Valley's Best

By Scott Leber |

Published 03/04 2014 02:53PM

Updated 03/04 2014 02:55PM

ST. LOUIS -- The 2014 MVC Larry Bird Player of the Year is sophomore Fred VanVleet of Wichita State. VanVleet (Rockford, Ill.) has helped lead his team to an unprecedented 31 regular-season wins without a loss as the Shockers enter Arch Madness ranked No. 2 nationally as the lone unbeaten team in the nation (31-0, 18-0 MVC). He's the fourth different Shocker to earn the league's Player of the Year award, joining Antoine Carr (1983), Xavier McDaniel (1984, 1985) and Paul Miller (2006).

 He received 22 of a possible 36 first-place votes and outdistanced teammates Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker in voting conducted by coaches, sports information directors and a media panel (voters could not vote for their own student-athlete.) Including this year, 0 freshmen, 2 sophomores, 16 juniors (seven of whom repeated) and 28 seniors have won the award (spanning 1969-2014). VanVleet joins Creighton's Doug McDermott (2012) as the only players in league history to win the honor as a sophomore. Notably, three Shockers were 1-2-3 in the voting -- the first time in the history of the award that the top three point-getters were all from the same team.

 In addition, VanVleet, Early and Baker -- all named to the league's first-team unit -- become the first trio from the same team to earn first-team all-MVC honors since 1973 (and in that season, the league selected a 10-person First Team.)

 VanVleet has been named of of 10 national semifinalists for the 2014 Men’s Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T, The Atlanta Tipoff Club announced last week. He enters this week tied for third nationally with a 4.0 assist-to-turnover ratio, and he also has a team-best 49 steals while averaging 11.9 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.

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