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March 8, 2010Ohio State junior point guard Evan Turner all season long addressed questions about his individual play with a team-oriented answers. Last week with a win over Illinois, Turner and his fellow Buckeyes clinched the Big Ten title and the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
On Monday, however, it was all about Turner.
Turner was named the Big Ten's Player of the Year and a member of the first team All-Big Ten team unanimously by both the media and the coaches, the show announced this evening.
"I think it is a really big deal," Turner said on his teleconference Monday evening. "A lot of the awards I have won are just state-wide but this is across the Midwest where there are a lot of the best players in the country."
Turner, who averaged 19.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 5.8 assists, is the fifth Ohio State player ever to win the prestigious award. Other Buckeyes who have won it include Dennis Hopson in 1987, Jim Jackson in 1991 and 1992, Scoonie Penn in 1999 and Terence Dials in 2006.
Turner was in the conversation for Big Ten Player of the Year last season, but that honor was given to Michigan State's Kalin Lucas.
Then at the beginning of this year Lucas was named the preseason Big Ten Player of the Year. Turner, however, wanted that award for himself.
And he got it.
"I just figured next year we were going to win the conference and I'm not going to give anybody any reason to put somebody else over me," Turner said of his thoughts after being passed over last year. "I worked hard and got my team together and we're a good unit. We got it accomplished."
Meanwhile Ohio State head coach Thad Matta was honored as the Big Ten Conference's Coach of the Year by the league media, the third time in six years he has achieved that honor. Purdue head coach Matt Painter was given the honor by the Big Ten coaches.
"We are really close. I look to him a lot for guidance and everything like that," Turner said. "He has coached a lot of great players and he taught me how to be a great player. I will forever appreciate him for that.
"We all love playing for (Coach Matta)," Turner added. "He's a player's coach and we all have trust and faith in him."
Turner wasn't the only Buckeye honored with Big Ten recognition, as both David Lighty and William Buford were named to the Big Ten's third team.
Jon Diebler was an honorable mention and Dallas Lauderdale made the Big Ten's all-defensive team. Finally, fifth-year senior Klye Madsen was selected as Ohio State's Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honoree.
"Dallas is one of the best defenders I have ever played with," Turner said.
Ohio State is the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will play their first game in Indianapolis on Friday at noon against the winner of the Michigan-Iowa game in the first round.
Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at Ari@BuckeyeGrove.com.