Carter Claims Hardman Award

West Virginia's Jevon Carter (2) dribbles the ball down the court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas Tech, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Brad Tollefson)

By JUSTIN JACKSON

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — Jevon Carter was once asked if there was ever a player he guarded that he couldn’t steal the ball from. After thinking about it, a quick smile came across his face. “If there was, I probably wouldn’t tell you.” he said.

The list would likely be short for Carter, the senior point guard for the West Virginia University men’s basketball team who guided the Mountaineers to the 2017 Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament while racking up several defensive honors and records.

Among them: Carter was named the National Association of Basketball Coaches Defensive Player of the Year, as well as the Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the Big 2’s all-defensive team for a third consecutive season.

At the start of his senior season, Carter became WVU’s all-time steals leader and helped lead WVU to its first No. 2 ranking in The Associated Press poll for the first time since Jerry West’s senior season in 1959-60.

“The records are nice but that’s not what I play for,” Carter said. “Records are made to be broken. I’ve always been more focused on helping this team win.”

For his efforts, Carter is recognized today as West Virginia’s Hardman Award winner, which goes annually since 1934 to the state’s top amateur athlete as voted by members of the W.Va. Sports Writers Association. He’s the third consecutive WVU athlete to take home the honor. Former WVU soccer star Kadeisha Buchanan won the award or 2015 and 2016.

Carter will be presented the award, which is sponsored by the Charleston Gazette-Mail, at the 72nd annual Victory Awards Dinner on May 6 in Charleston.

He is the first WVU’s men’s basketball player to win the Hardman Award since Da’Sean Butler guided the Mountaineers to the 2010 Final Four. Butler shared the award with former West Liberty State’s record-setting quarterback Zach Amedro.

Carter may be on a similar path with the Mountaineers that Butler enjoyed in 2010 although WVU coach Bob Huggins said Carter should get more credit because he may not have as much talent around him that Butler once had.

“Da’Sean was going to play (in the NBA) and obviously, (Devin) Ebanks played in the league and then Kevin Jones played in the league,” Huggins said. “There were three pros on that (2010) team. There aren’t three pros on this team. Da’Sean was surrounded by guys who were pretty good players, and not that Jevon isn’t, but time will tell.”

Huggins credits Carter with having a work ethic that surpasses most that have played for him. “Kevin Jones was probably the hardest worker I’ve had and Jevon is pretty close,” he said. “Jevon is right there.”

That work ethic has helped Carter develop into one of the top all-around players at WVU. He averaged 13.5 points and five rebounds per game as a junior, while recording 92 steals. The steals are second-most in one season at WVU, trailing Damion Owens’ 97 steals during the 1997-98 Sweet 16 season.

Carter, too, led the Mountaineers to the Sweet 16, as well as the championship game of the Big 12 Tournament for a second straight season. In the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, Carter had one of his best games of the season, finishing with 24 points and three rebounds to lead the Mountaineers to an 83-71 victory against Notre Dame. before WVU fell to No. 1 seed Gonzaga in the Sweet 16.

“He’s had the success he’s had because of the work he’s put in,” Huggins said. “When I’m in my office and I start to hear some balls bouncing around (in the WVU practice facility), it’s usually Jevon. He’s able to go out there and do the things he does in games because of the amount of extra work he puts in before the games.”

WVU football receiver David Sills V took second in the voting after he had a breakout season of 60 receptions for 980 yards and a national-best 18 touchdowns while leading the Mountaineers to the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

Marshall men’s basketball guard Jon Elmore placed third after averaging 19.7 points per game and connecting on 83 3-pointers in leading the Thundering Herd to a 20-win season.

Fairmont State men’s basketball standout Matt Bingaya led the Falcons to the 2017 Division II national title game while averaging 18.2 points and 6.7 rebounds a game. He took fourth in balloting.

WVU quarterback Will Grier was fifth after throwing for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns. It was the second most TD passes in one season in school history.

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