At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon at The Garden ahead of the start of the Big East Tournament, Villanova guard Josh Hart has been selected Big East Player of the Year, Creighton freshman center Justin Patton has been named Big East Freshman of the Year, and Butler head coach Chris Holtmann was tabbed Big East Coach of the Year. The winners were selected by a vote of the league’s head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own players.
Hart is one of senior leaders on a Villanova squad that went 28-3 in the regular season and won a fourth straight Big EAST regular-season title. The Wildcats are also defending National Champions.
A 6-5 senior from Silver Spring, Md., Hart is considered a top candidate for National Player of the Year honors. Known for his all-around skills and full-throttle playing style, Hart has averaged 18.6 points and 6.5 rebounds going into this week’s Big East Tournament.
Hart is first in the Big East in scoring with an 18.6 average. In league games, he won the Big East scoring crown with an 18.2 mark. His 6.5 rebound average in all games ranks fourth in the league. He is sixth in steals at 1.5 and ninth in assist/turnover ratio at 1.7. He is one of only two players in Villanova history to amass at least 1,800 points, 700 rebounds, 250 assists and 150 steals. The other Wildcat to reach those milestones is Kerry Kittles, who was the BIG EAST Player of the Year in 1994-95. Hart won the Dave Gavitt Trophy as the Most Outstanding Player as a sophomore in the 2015 BIG EAST Tournament. He is the first BIG EAST player to win the Dave Gavitt Trophy before earning BIG EAST Player of the Year honors.
Patton, a 7-0 center from Omaha, Neb., has made an immediate splash with the Bluejays and helped his team compile a 23-8 record and 10-8 Big East mark. He is averaging 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting an impressive 69.3 percent from the field. His field goal percentage ranks third in the country and he’s on pace to set the NCAA record for a freshman. He has shot better than 54 percent from the floor in 30 of 31 games this season. In Big East play, he broke the freshman field goal shooting mark, making 66.3 percent. In all games, Patton’s rebound average ranks fifth in the Big East and his 1.5 blocked shot mark is fourth. Patton is only league freshman to earn all-conference honors, being named to the All-Big East Second Team.
Holtmann has directed Butler to a remarkable season with a 23-7 overall record and a 12-6 Big East mark. Picked sixth in the BIG EAST coaches’ preseason poll, the Bulldogs finished second and will be the No. 2 seed in this week’s Big East Tournament. This season, Butler owns a 6-2 mark against ranked teams with five of the wins coming against teams in the top 15. This week, the Bulldogs are ranked No. 18 in the Associated Press poll. On Sunday, Butler is expected to receive its third straight NCAA Tournament invitation. Holtmann’s three-year record at Butler is 68-29 (.701). In six seasons as a head coach, Holtmann is 112-83 (.574).
BIG EAST Player of the Year
Josh Hart, Villanova
BIG EAST Freshman of the Year
Justin Patton, Creighton
BIG EAST Coach of the Year
Chris Holtmann, Butler