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March 7, 2011MADISON - It's been a season that's had a number of firsts along the way.
Monday night, the Wisconsin men's basketball team added another accomplishment to that list when both Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor were named to the coaches first-team All-Big Ten team by the leagues coaches.
Taylor was a first-team selection by both the media (unanimous) and coaches whereas Leuer was tabbed first-team from the coaches and second-team by the media.
Senior Keaton Nankivil earned honorable mention from both the coaches and media.
"I'm honored to be selected, but I feel that individual awards are a reflection of team success," Taylor said via UW press release Monday evening. "None of us would be recognized if it weren't for the guys around us and the coaches around us that put us in a position to be successful. It's a special thing after all the hard work we put in during the offseason and it's nice to know that it pays off.
"Coach Bo Ryan always says that if you work hard, the basketball Gods will pay you back."
Leuer, who received his first first-team All-Big Ten honor was just that. Honored.
"It's a huge honor to be placed on the same list as the other first-team honorees," Leuer, who averages just shy of 19 points and just more seven rebounds per game said. "I think all of the other players on the list represent the Big Ten in the right way. To have your body of work compared on the same level as other great players is really meaningful and I'm honored. You can't earn these type of honors without your teammates and they definitely deserve just as much recognition as Jordan, Keaton and I."
During Bo Ryan's 10 seasons at the helm, nine players have received first-team all-conference distinction. Leuer and Taylor's accomplishments mark the first time any Badger player earned first-team since Brian Butch did so in 2008. They are also the only duo to land on the first-team squad in the same season. They were joined by Purdue's E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson (also Player of the Year) and Ohio State's Jared Sullinger.
In 1995, Michael Finley (coaches) and Rashard Griffith (media) earned first-team honors, albeit on separate lists.
"In order for us to have the kind of year that we've had and some of the success we've enjoyed, Jon and Jordan were obviously instrumental in that." Ryan said. "I'm very proud of them and think that their recognition is richly deserved."
Taylor wasn't done with his unanimous first-team selection, either. The junior guard was also named to the leagues All-Defensive team that was selected upon by the coaches.
"Placing Jordan on the All-Defensive Team shows that people recognize his impact," Ryan said. "They notice how hard he plays, that he's a scrappy player who is all over the place, taking charges, diving for loose balls. This recognizes his commitment to playing defense and working hard."
Leuer, who was named a preseason All-Big Ten player, lived up to the hype. He led the team in both scoring and rebounding per game. His 18.9 points per game average was good for third in the league and his 7.3 boards per were good for fifth.
The senior also logged double-digit scoring in every game this season.
"I thought Jon should have been Player of the Year in the Big Ten," Taylor said. "But you can only control what you do on the court. Being picked first-team recognizes all the work he's put in on the court from his freshman year until now. It's really satisfying for me to watch him progress and have his hard work pay off."
Nankivil, the team's third consistent scorer, also earned praise from his senior comrade in regards to his honorable mention distinction.
"I've seen Keaton develop since his freshman year and he's come a long way," Leuer said. "In my opinion he should have been third or even second-team All-Big Ten, but just to be recognized is an honor and he's proved himself. With his shot and all-around game, he's one of the most skilled big men in the country."
Taylor also chimed in.
"Keaton has come a long way and he's done some special things here," the guard said. "It's good to see him getting recognized for his accomplishments."
-Purdue's Matt Painter earned Coach of the Year by both the media and coaches.
-Leuer was replaced by Talor Battle on the first team media team.
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