Pitt Zoo members hold up cardboard cutouts of Brad Wanamaker and Gilbert Brown as they cheer on the Panthers in their 60-50 victory against Villanova Saturday afternoon at Petersen Events Center.
By Ray Fittipaldo Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pitt was crowned the Big East Conference regular-season champion Saturday, and two of its players reaped the rewards Sunday when they were named all-conference.
Junior guard Ashton Gibbs, Pitt's leading scorer, was named first-team all-conference and senior guard Brad Wanamaker made the second team.
"It's quite an accomplishment," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "Sometimes when you have two players that good they take votes away from the other. I don't think there is a more valuable player in the league to his team than Brad. He's not worried about his scoring or getting his shots, just helping his team win. Ashton ... he's a hard matchup for other teams. He's just gotten better and better."
Gibbs is the ninth player in school history to earn first-team all-Big East honors. He joins Jerome Lane, Charles Smith, Brian Shorter, Brandin Knight, Chevy Troutman, Aaron Gray, Sam Young and DeJuan Blair.
It is the fifth time in the past six years that a Pitt player has been named first-team all-conference.
Gibbs, who is averaging 16.4 points per game, is shooting a Big East-best 46.6 percent from 3-point range and 89.5 percent from the free-throw line.
Gibbs scored more than 20 points 10 times this season and reached double figures in scoring in 23 of 28 games.
Wanamaker, who is averaging 11.9 points per game, is one of the most complete players in the Big East. He leads the Panthers in minutes played, free throws made, assist-to-turnover ratio and steals. He is second on the team in scoring, rebounding and field goals made.
Wanamaker is one of only two players in school history to score 1,000 points, grab 500 rebounds and dish out 400 assists in a career.
Dixon said earlier this week that force-feeding Wanamaker as a freshman might have impeded his progress, but Wanamaker said Sunday the hard coaching he received helped him become a better player.
"It showed me that I needed more work to do," Wanamaker said. "And it showed me that he saw something in me."
Wanamaker has been mentioned as a dark-horse candidate for Big East player of the year honors in recent weeks by a few of the league's head coaches.
"It makes me feel real good to hear that," Wanamaker said. "If it happens that would be great. If not, I'm already happy with the accomplishment of making second team."
Notre Dame senior guard Ben Hansbrough was the only unanimous selection to the first team. Other players named to the first team include Kemba Walker of Connecticut, Austin Freeman of Georgetown, Marshon Brooks of Providence and Dwight Hardy of St. John's.
Joining Wanamaker on the second team are Preston Knowles of Louisville, Darius Johnson-Odom of Marquette, Rick Jackson of Syracuse and Corey Fisher of Villanova.
Players named to the third team are Chris Wright of Georgetown, Tim Abromaitis of Notre Dame, Jeremy Hazell of Seton Hall, Kris Joseph of Syracuse and Corey Stokes of Villanova.
Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young of DePaul, Sean Kilpatrick of Cincinnati, Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier of Connecticut and Gilvydas Biruta of Rutgers were named to the all-rookie team. Melvin was the only unanimous selection to the all-rookie team.
The Big East will hand out more awards today and Tuesday. The Big East player of the year and coach of the year awards will be announced Tuesday afternoon at Madison Square Garden in New York.