Michigan State’s Valentine wins AP Player of the Year

Denzel Valentine is the first Spartans player to win the award

In this Dec. 19, 2015, file photo, Michigan State's Denzel Valentine brings the ball upcourt during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northeastern in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson, File)

HOUSTON (AP) — Denzel Valentine of Michigan State is The Associated Press Player of the Year, edging out Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield by three votes.

Valentine is the first Spartans player to win the award. He accepted the trophy Thursday in Houston.

Valentine received 34 of 65 votes from the national media panel that selects the weekly AP Top 25. Hield was the only other player to receive votes. Hield and Valentine were the only unanimous selections to the AP All-America team.

Valentine, a 6-foot-5 senior, led Michigan State (29-6) to a second-place finish in the Big Ten regular season and was the conference player of the year. He averaged 19.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.6 assists.

The Spartans were ranked No. 1 for four weeks and finished second in the final AP Top 25. They lost to Middle Tennessee State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Voting was done before the tournament.

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