UNI Panthers

UNI's AJ Green is MVC basketball player of the year

He is only the third sophomore to win the Larry Bird award

Northern Iowa guard AJ Green (4), pushing past Marshall forward Iran Bennett in December, was named the Missouri Valley
Northern Iowa guard AJ Green (4), pushing past Marshall forward Iran Bennett in December, was named the Missouri Valley Conference’s player of the year on Tuesday. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

ST. LOUIS — UNI’s AJ Green was named the Larry Bird Player of the Year in the Missouri Valley Conference on Tuesday, only the third sophomore honored with the award.

Teammate Isaiah Brown was named MVC Defensive Player of the Year.

Green, a 6-foot-4 guard, guided the Panthers to their first regular-season MVC crown since 2010 and leads the league in scoring at 19.7 points per game. He also averaged an MVC-best 21.8 points per game in league play.

The former Cedar Falls prep enters this week’s MVC tournament with 1,100 career points.

Green, also named first-team all-MVC, received 39 of the 49 first-place votes and 129 points. Cameron Krutwig of Loyola-Chicago was second with 10 first-place votes and 98 total points.

Green is UNI’s fourth Larry Bird Player of the Year, following Jason Daisy (1997), Adam Koch (2010) and Seth Tuttle (2015). He joins Creighton's Doug McDermott (2012) and Wichita State's Fred VanVleet (2014) as the only sophomores to win the honor.

Brown, a 6-7 guard, has been matched up with the top offensive weapon every game this season. The Panthers surrendered just 64.7 points per game against Valley opponents and have held opponents to just 42.2 percent from the field, second lowest in the league. Brown has recorded 121 rebounds, 28 steals and 12 blocks this season. He is just the second Panther to win the Defensive Player of the Year award, following Kwadzo Ahelegbe (2011).

UNI sophomore Austin Phyfe, a 6-9 senior from Waverly-Shell Rock, also earned first-team honors. He is averaging 11.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

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