Sophomore guard Tony Carr earned Team Most Valuable Player honors to highlight the 39th Annual Nittany Lion Basketball Banquet, sponsored by the Penn State Hoops Club, Friday evening at the Bryce Jordan Center. Eight Nittany Lions were honored with annual awards during the event and the program’s two seniors, guard Shep Garner and forward Julian Moore were presented with framed jerseys.
Garner completed his career as the recipient of the Coaches Award and Moore was selected as the Dave Phillips Unsung Hero Award winner. Both leave Penn State with their names etched in the Nittany Lion basketball record book and in the memories of Penn State basketball fans for their loyalty and dedication to the program.
“Voice of the Nittany Lions” Steve Jones was the emcee for the event which saw the presentation of several awards to those who have made significant contributions to the Penn State men’s basketball program.
A full rundown of student-athlete awards follows:
Scholastic Achievement Award – Deivis Zemgulis
This award is presented annually to the Penn State basketball player whose hard work and dedication in the classroom demonstrates a commitment to reach his full potential. Winning this award for the second-straight year was junior Deivis Zemgulis. A food science major, Zemgulis has earned recognition for his semester and cumulative grade point averages and was honored for his academic achievement, including posting a grade point average of 3.0 or above for the 2017 spring semester.
Lou Lamie Most Inspirational Award – John Harrar
The Lou Lamie Most Inspirational Award is presented to the Nittany Lion player for exemplary conduct, attitude, interest and loyalty to the basketball team. Freshman forward John Harrar was selected as the recipient of the 2018 award. Despite limited playing time during the course of the season, Harrar constantly worked to be prepared and ready if and when his name was called, as well as supporting his teammates in their efforts. The Wallingford, Pennsylvania, native played in 27 games and started the last eight games of the season, helping the Nittany Lions to a 7-1 mark during the month of March and Penn State’s championship run. He averaged 7.4 rebounds per game in the five postseason NIT games and had a career-best and game-high 12 in the title game, collecting 10 by halftime.
Most Improved Player Award – Lamar Stevens
This award is presented annually to the Penn State basketball player who through his commitment, dedication and hard work has improved the most during the past season. With more consecutive starts than any other Nittany Lion on the current roster, forward Lamar Stevens increased his offensive production from his first game as a freshman to his last game as a sophomore and worked on all aspects of his game. Averaging 19.2 points over five postseason NIT games, he set the Penn State record for most points in an NIT game and tied his career high with 30 points at Marquette. In the NIT championship game, he led all scorers with 28 points off 11-15 shooting from the field, including a 4-5 mark from beyond the arc. For his efforts, he was voted by media members to receive the 2018 National Invitation Tournament Most Outstanding Player Award.
Co-Scrappiest Award Winners – Josh Reaves and Mike Watkins
This award is presented annually to the Penn State basketball player or players who committed every day to working hardest and sacrificing for the betterment of the team. Junior guard Josh Reaves and redshirt sophomore Mike Watkins were named Co-Scrappiest Players of the Year for 2017-18 after helping Penn State to school defensive records in steals, blocked shots and top-10 rankings in Big Ten statistics for lowest opponent points average, field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage.
Recognized as the “human highlight reel,” and “glue guy,” Josh Reaves was named the Co-Scrappiest Player of the Year for 2017-18. Reaves snatched 74 steals last season to lead the Big Ten in that category and earn a top-10 national ranking. From Fairfax, Virginia, Reaves’ seven steals in a single game was the most by any Nittany Lion since 2007, most in a Big Ten Conference game in 2017-18 and good for third on Penn State’s single game list. His single-season total was eighth in Penn State history and he moved to seventh on the Nittany Lions’ career list with 170. He has led Penn State in the steals category 44 times and rebounds in 15 games in his three years and recorded his two career double-doubles this past season.
Owner of the Penn State records for season and career field goal percentage and holder of two spots on the Nittany Lions’ single-season chart for blocked shots, Co-Scrappiest Player of the Year, Mike Watkins led the Big Ten with a 68.5 season percentage. His 63.7 Penn State career field goal percentage ranks fifth nationally. In addition to his 12 double-doubles in 2017-18, Watkins was the Nittany Lions’ top rim protector and contributed to the team’s season-record 193 blocked shots this year and had 90 of Penn State’s blocks a year ago. He is currently third on Penn State’s career chart for blocks.
John Lawther Most Valuable Player Award – Tony Carr
This award is named after one of the NCAA’s all-time most winning coaches, John Lawther, who guided the Nittany Lions to the 1942 NCAA tournament, and is presented annually to Penn State’s most outstanding player. Carr earned All-Big Ten Conference first team and Associated Press All-Big Ten first team honors as well as All-National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and all-United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) first team all-district honors. He became the first Penn State sophomore named to the Big Ten All-Tournament team and is one of only six Big Ten players to record multiple 25-point games in a single tournament with 25 against both Northwestern and Ohio State.
The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, native led the Nittany Lions in scoring and assists for the second consecutive year and became the first Penn State men’s basketball sophomore to reach the 1,000 career point milestone. His 725 points in the 2017-18 year rank second on the all-time single-season list.
Dave Phillips Unsung Hero Award – Julian Moore
Named for Dave Phillips, a longtime fan and avid supporter, this award is presented to a member of the Penn State basketball program whose selflessness consistently provides an outstanding example to his teammates. Moore, who has been part of the program for five years after receiving a medical redshirt his freshman year, has been a dependable team contributor, role model for the Nittany Lion underclassmen and leader on and off the court, ready to learn every day. He played in the last 26 straight games of the 2017-18 season, setting several career- and season-best marks, and now holds the program record for 141 games played.
Coaches Award – Shep Garner
This award is presented annually to the basketball player who best exemplifies the characteristics of a Penn State basketball player. An ambassador for the University and Penn State men’s basketball, Garner completed his career with a number of Penn State records, including the single-season and career records for 3-point field goals made. In the final game of his career, he also broke the Big Ten Conference single-season mark for 3-point field goals with 120. The Chester, Pennsylvania, native helped the Nittany Lions to 75 wins during his career, the most in a four-year span in Penn State’s Big Ten era. He led Penn State in assists 42 times and in scoring 24 times from 2014-2018. In his final Big Ten Tournament game he scored 33 points, matching his uniform number, on March 3 and, in doing so, also set Penn State’s career Big Ten Tournament scoring record.
The event concluded with remarks from Penn State men’s basketball coach Patrick Chambers and a highlight video of the 2017-18 season. Encompassing “The Climb” from the arrival of the freshmen and preseason workouts, the video brought fans through the season, the Nittany Lions’ Big Ten Tournament semifinals appearance and amazing march to the National Invitation Championship.