Men's Basketball Hands Out Awards at Team Banquet
Yuta Watanabe named the Mike Brown MVP
WASHINGTON -- With student-athletes, parents, coaches and support staff, along with GW President Thomas LeBlanc and first lady Anne LeBlanc, on hand, the GW men's basketball program held its team banquet on Sunday afternoon in the City View Room.
Though the Colonials will continue their season this Wednesday when they begin their pursuit of the Atlantic 10 Championship at Capital One Arena in downtown Washington, they took a break to celebrate the 2017-18 regular season and hand out five end-of-season awards.
The awards are named to commemorate the contributions made by GW men's basketball alumni who represented the GW commitment to being Champions in the Classroom, Community, and Competition, and the men's basketball family's commitment to being #GREAT, which means approaching every day with Grit, Respect, Energy, Accountability and Trust.
Below is a list of this season's award winners:
Red Auerbach Community Building Award
Before he was an all-time great NBA Coach and Executive with the Boston Celtics, collecting 16 rings in all, Red Auerbach was a GW men's basketball student-athlete from the classes of 1940 and 1941. Coach Auerbach maintained his commitment to the Colonials throughout his life, joining us for practices and games. We remember him with the red seat that sits in the Colonial Army section.
Winner: Senior Jack Granger
Granger has been a community leader both within the GW program and across the campus. As a team manager for three years, Granger did whatever he was asked to make the team go, and as a walk-on member of the team, he has been eager to commit himself to the scout team, and even score some points of his own. In the community, he has been a leader in supporting Camp Kesem, a summer camp supporting children whose parents are fighting cancer. He has also been an E-Board member of Gift of Life, committed to building a national bone marrow registry for people struggling with bone cancer.
Pat Tallent Student-Athlete Award
Recognizes a student-athlete who has demonstrated strong contributions on the court while showing exceptional leadership in the classroom. It is named for Pat Tallent of the Class of 1977, who earned Academic All-America first team honors while landing fourth on GW's all-time scoring list.
Winner: Graduate student Patrick Steeves
Steeves has averaged career bests with 10.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and a .536 field goal percentage as a starter for the team while maintaining a 3.96 GPA in a business analytics master's program. For his impact, Steeves earned CoSIDA All-District First Team Honors. He also supports his fellow student-athletes, tutoring teammates and student-athletes across the Department of Athletics and Recreation.
Shawnta Rogers Grit and Glue Award
Rogers had one of the most decorated careers of any GW men's basketball player, earning four years of All A-10 honors and remaining the career leader in both assists and steals at just 5-foot-4. His game, his hustle, and his toughness, made him seem a lot bigger than that.
Winner: Freshman Justin Mazzulla
While growing into his role as a guard on the team, Mazzulla never slowed down in practice, pushing himself and his teammates to give all they have to everything they do. As he progressively earned more playing time, he showed his commitment to his teammates in the way he tried to take two charges in a single defensive possession, the way he dove into the stands for a loose ball against Saint Louis, and his eagerness to get on the floor and make the hustle play.
Patricio Garino Defensive Award
Recognizing the 2016 alumnus who was a consistent defensive force for the Colonials, earning Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team honors his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. Garino ranks third in school history with 220 steals.
Winner: Senior Yuta Watanabe
Consistently tasked with guarding the opposing team's top offensive threat, Watanabe has proven himself to be one of the top defenders in the nation. He is third in school history in blocks, a member of the A-10 All-Defensive Team, and has repeatedly drawn praise from other coaches around the country after shutting down their best players. Miami's Jim Larranaga cited his versatility in calling him one of the top-10 defenders nationally, and Matt McCall of UMass referred to him simply as a mismatch nightmare.
Mike Brown MVP Award
Brown was known as the Washington Monument in his time at GW, graduating in 1985 after earning All A-10 First or Second Team awards all four years of his career. He ranks second in school history in rebounds (1,166) and third in scoring (1,916).
Winner: Senior Yuta Watanabe
In addition to everything he does for the team defensively, Watanabe has turned in his finest season offensively, leading the team in scoring, three-point shooting and free throw percentage. In conference play he elevated his game to another level in averaging 18.4 points a game and shooting 42 percent from three. He also owns the team lead in blocks and minutes played, and ranks second in rebounds and steals. Beyond his stats, Watanabe has been a shining example to his teammates with his unmatched work ethic, dedication and selflessness.
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