Vincent Grier wasn’t just speechless.
He was wordless.
“It’s definitely remarkable,” Grier said after learning he was named first team All-Big Ten by coaches and second team by the media. “To be known as one of the best players in any conference is good, but this – I’m wordless.”
Grier was joined on the honor roll by Jeff Hagen, who garnered honorable mention, and Dan Coleman, who made the Big Ten all-freshman team.
Both the media’s and coaches’ All-Big Ten first teams consisted of Illinois’ vaunted three-guard attack of Deron Williams, Luther Head and Dee Brown, who was the consensus player of the year.
Brown was also named defensive player of the year, becoming just the second player in league history to win top player on both ends of the floor in the same season.
Grier was replaced on the media’s first team by Indiana’s Bracey Wright.
Grier’s 18 points per game was good for third in Big Ten games, and he led the conference in steals during Big Ten play with 35 (2.19 per game).
In addition, he attempted and made more free throws than any other Big Ten player this season.
And he did it all with his characteristic energy, despite logging 37.5 minutes per game and playing all 40 minutes the last three. His 1,034 total minutes are more than 100 minutes more than his closest teammate.
Grier is the 23rd player in Gophers history to earn first team All-Big Ten honors and is Minnesota’s third first-team All-Big Ten selection in as many years (Rick Rickert in 2003, Kris Humphries in 2004).
“He’s probably as valuable as any player in the league,” coach Dan Monson said. “Of all the new faces in the league, nobody made a bigger impact than Vincent Grier.”
But Monson said he was just as happy Hagen and Coleman were recognized.
Hagen had his best collegiate season, becoming just the second Gophers player to lead the conference in blocks with 2.12 per game. The 7-footer averaged 11.3 points per game and grabbed 7.4 rebounds.
Coleman was named to the Big Ten all-freshman team, which is voted on by coaches, after scoring 8.6 points per game and grabbing 3.8 rebounds.
“It was one of my goals, so I’m happy,” Coleman said. He shook his head “no” when asked if awards mattered much to him.
As pleased as Monson was with the individual accolades for his players, he said they reflected a larger reality for the season.
That season continues Friday against Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago.
“It was a product of our success,” Monson said. “It’s great for those guys, but it’s really a compliment to our whole team.”