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UBC guard Josh Whyte named top player in Canadian university men’s hoops

Fourth-year UBC guard Josh Whyte is the Canadian university men’s basketball player of the year.

The Calgary native was among the Canada West leaders in several categories, finishing fourth in scoring (19.1 points per game), sixth in field-goal percentage (53.8) and assists (4.2) and sixth in steals (2.4). The six-foot-two senior helped lead the Thunderbirds to a 17-1 record.

“Josh has had an outstanding year for us,” UBC head coach Kevin Hanson said in a statement. “He has made hiself stronger and fitter and this has paid off with big dividends.”

Whyte is the third UBC player to receive the Mike Moser trophy, joining J.D. Jackson (1990-92) and Kyle Russell (2002-03).

St. FX point guard Christian Upshaw, McGill guard Matthew Thornhill and Ottawa guard Josh Gibson-Bascombe were the other finalists.

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Other award winners announced Thursday included:

-Cape Breton forward Phillip Nkrumah taking home defensive player-of-the-year honours after leading the Atlantic conference with 6.3 defensive rebounds per game;

-Brock swingman Clinton Springer-Williams earning the rookie-of-the-year award after leading all CIS freshman with 21.2 points per game;

-Hanson copping coach-of-the-year accolades for the second time in five seasons, having led the Thunderbirds to the national championship tournament for the seventh time in eight years;

-Dalhousie guard Andrew Sullivan winning the Ken Shields Award, which recognizes a player’s contribution in athletics, academics and community service.

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One of the premier guards in the country, Whyte was among the Canada West leaders in numerous statistical categories in 2009-10 finishing fourth (13th CIS) in scoring with 19.1 points per game, sixth in both field goal percentage (53.8) and assists (4.2), and fifth in steals (2.4). He also maintained the second-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the conference at 1.7 and chipped in with five rebounds per outing, putting up all of these numbers while playing only 28.8 minutes per contest. The 6-foot-2 senior led or tied for the team lead in scoring eight times in 18 league games and had a team-high in assists on nine separate occasions. He scored a season-high 28 points twice and tallied more than 20 points six times during the regular season.

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Behind Whyte’s stellar play, the Thunderbirds enjoyed one of the best seasons in program history. UBC was ranked first or second in each of the 14 national coaches’ polls this year and posted a 17-1 record for a CIS-best .944 winning percentage in conference play. The combination of his playmaking and finishing on offence was a big reason why UBC ranked second in Canada West in scoring (85.8 points per game) and first in field goal percentage (47.4) and scoring margin (+17.7). One of the top defenders in the league, Whyte also anchored a T-Bird squad that held opponents to a league-low 38.0% field goal shooting and 68.1 points per game.

A first-time all-Canadian and three-time Canada West all-star, Whyte represented Canada at the 2009 Summer Universiade in Belgrade, Serbia. Prior to joining UBC last season, he played for the Victoria Vikes in 2006-07 after starting his collegiate career with Mount Royal College of the ACAC.

“Josh has had an outstanding year for us. After representing Canada at the FISU Games last summer, he came home with new inspiration and dedication to basketball,” said UBC head coach Kevin Hanson. “He has made himself stronger and fitter and this has paid off with big dividends. He has been our leader on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, our most inspirational player, and has led our team in almost every statistical category. Josh has frequently elevated his game at crucial times for us and has the ability to take over games. He has had a huge impact on our team’s success.”

St. Francis Xavier point guard Christian Upshaw of Halifax, McGill guard Matthew Thornhill of Ile Bizard, Que., and Ottawa guard Josh Gibson-Bascombe of Toronto were the other finalists for the Moser trophy.

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