NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Junior guard Justin Simon of St. John's has been chosen Big East Conference defensive player of the year.

The league also announced on Monday its head coaches selected DePaul sophomore forward Paul Reed as the most improved player; Butler senior guard Paul Jorgensen as the conference's sixth man of the year; and Butler senior center Nate Fowler for its sportsmanship award.

The Big East will announce its player, coach and freshman of the year awards along with its basketball scholar-athlete at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, the opening night of the conference's postseason tournament.

Butler will play Providence in the opening game, and St. John's will face DePaul in the second game.

Top-seeded Villanova and second-seeded Marquette will get into action on Thursday, when four quarterfinal games are scheduled.

Simon, a 6-foot-5 junior guard, started 30 of 31 games, usually handling an opponent's top guard. He ranks seventh in the league in steals with a 1.4 average, leads the team with 19 blocked shots, and averages 10.0 points.

Reed averages 11.2 points and 8.2 rebounds, starting 21 of 28 games. His rebounding average ranks first in the conference and his 91.7 percent free-throw shooting percentage is second in the league. The forward averaged 3.6 points and 3.1 rebounds last season.

Jorgensen started three conference games, but his 11.8 scoring average is second on the team. His 3-point total (68) also is second on the team.

Fowler has participated in several of Butler's community service initiatives, including an active role in the "adopting" of elementary-aged Seth Dennison as a teammate. Dennison has a rare chromosome deletion, but interacts with players at team events. Fowler is averaging 5.4 points and 3.6 rebounds while starting 18 games.


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