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Valentine beats out Hield for AP player of the year

Michigan State guard Denzel Valentine edged Oklahoma scoring whiz Buddy Hield for the Associated Press College Player of the Year award Thursday. Kansas' Bill Self was named AP Coach of the Year, and Xavier's Chris Mack finished second in the vot...

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Michigan State Spartans guard Denzel Valentine shoots during practice for an NCAA Tournament game March 17 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. (Photo by Jeff Curry - USA Today Sports)

Michigan State guard Denzel Valentine edged Oklahoma scoring whiz Buddy Hield for the Associated Press College Player of the Year award Thursday.

Kansas’ Bill Self was named AP Coach of the Year, and Xavier’s Chris Mack finished second in the voting, which was conducted before the NCAA Tournament.

Valentine became the first Michigan State player to win the AP Player of the Year award despite missing four games during the season after minor knee surgery. He received 34 of 65 votes from national media members who select the Top 25 each week.

Hield was the only other player to receive votes for the award. Both Hield and Valentine were unanimous picks for the AP All-America first team.

Valentine was selected the Big Ten Player of the Year after leading Michigan State to a second-place finish during the regular season and the conference tournament championship. He averaged 19.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.6 assists.

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The Spartans were upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by Middle Tennessee State after they finished the regular season ranked No. 2 in the AP poll and received a No. 2 seed.

“The last two weeks have been tough, and it’s hard to duck the tournament. It’s wherever you go,” Valentine said. “You go into a restaurant and a game’s on. You just can’t duck it.”

Hield, the Big 12 Player of the Year, averaged 25.4 points and shot 54.9 percent from the field and 46.5 percent on 3-pointers this season while leading Oklahoma to the Final Four.

Self’s Kansas team finished the regular season ranked No. 1 and received the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, but the Jayhawks (33-5) fell short of the Final Four with a loss to Villanova in a regional final.

Self received 21 votes, Mack had 15 and Oregon’s Dana Altman collected 13. Self also won the award in 2009.

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