Everyone knew that the voting for all of the various Player of the Year awards would be narrow, but even this is a surprise. Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine beat out Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield for the Associated Press’ POY award by three votes, marking the first time that a Spartan has ever won the AP’s highest individual honor for a college basketball player.

On the season, Valentine was perhaps the most well-rounded player in America. He averaged 19.2 points, 7.8 assists and 7.5 rebounds per game for the Spartans. Hield, meanwhile, was the one of the best scorers in the nation, going for 25.4 points per game on 50.4 percent shooting from the field, 46.5 percent shooting from three and 88 percent shooting from the free throw line. Voting for the award was done prior to the NCAA Tournament (in which Valentine’s Spartans lost to 15-seeded Middle Tennessee State in the first round, while Hield’s Sooners are in the Final Four).

Via ESPN:

Michigan State senior guard Denzel Valentine is The Associated Press Player of the Year, edging out Oklahoma senior guard Buddy Hield by three votes.

 

Valentine is the first Spartan to win the award. He accepted the trophy Thursday in Houston.

 

Valentine received 34 of 65 votes from the national media panel that selects the weekly AP Top 25. Hield was the only other player to receive votes. Hield and Valentine were the only unanimous selections to the AP All-America team.