Missouri State junior Kyle Weems (F, Topeka, Kan.) has been named Missouri Valley Conference Larry Bird Player of the Year, the league announced Tuesday afternoon. He received 33 of the 40 possible first-place votes for the honor.
Three other MSU players also earned conference honors in the first of a series of postseason award releases the MVC will distribute this week. Jermaine Mallett (Sr., G, Jackson, Miss.) was named to the All-MVC second team and the All-Defensive Team, while Will Creekmore (Sr., C, Tulsa, Okla.) also claimed All-MVC second-team honors. Nathan Scheer (F, Washington, Mo.) was named to the MVC All-Freshman Team.
Weems, also an All-MVC first-team selection this year, ranks among the Valley’s top 10 players in 11 of 13 statistical categories, including second in scoring (16.3) and third in rebounding (7.0). He is a four-time MVC Player of the Week this season and has scored in double figures in 28 of the Bears’ 30 games this year.
This is Weems’ third consecutive MVC postseason honor after earning a place on the MVC All-Freshman team in 2009 and the All-MVC second team a year ago. He is the first Missouri State player to earn MVC Player of the Year honors and first Bear to claim a conference MVP award since Lee Campbell was named Mid-Continent Conference player of the year in 1990.
Mallett, who was on the MVC All-Newcomer team in 2010, is third on the squad in scoring at 11.3 points per game and also has secured 5.6 rebounds per contest. He ranks third in the MVC in three-point field goal percentage (.427) and fifth in minutes played (32.8). His 126 defensive rebounds, 22 steals and solid on-ball defending made him a viable choice for the conference defensive team, the Bears’ first since Anthony Shavies in 2005.
Creekmore is second on the MSU squad in scoring (12.0) and rebounding (6.5). He is the top field goal shooter in the Missouri Valley (.586) and is fifth in rebounding, and blocked shots, while finishing the regular season as the fourth-best offensive rebounder in the league. A 2011 CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-America honoree, he was a 2009 MVC All-Newcomer pick and has earned All-Scholar Athlete Team honors in 2009 and 2010.
This is the first time Missouri State has had three all-conference players since 2002.
Scheer has been the first MSU player off the bench in 18 of 30 games this season. He has scored in double figures three times and averages 20.7 minutes per game with 4.2 points and 1.8 rebounds. His 23 three-pointers rank fourth on the squad. He is the Bears’ first All-Freshman selection since Weems in 2009.
The MVC will announce its All-Bench Team and Most-Improved player on Wednesday before the release of the 2010-11 Coach of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year on Thursday. Finally, the conference All-Academic squad will be announced on March 7.
The Bears (23-7) captured their first-ever Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title in 2010-11 after notching a school-record 15-3 conference record. MSU opens the 2011 State Farm MVC Tournament on Friday at 12:05 p.m. as the top-seeded team and will play the winner of Thursday’s opening-round game between Southern Illinois and Illinois State.