As expected, Ryukyu Golden Kings center Jeff Newton is the 2008-09 bj-league MVP, it was announced on Thursday.
Newton, a winner of three championship rings with the Osaka Evessa, joined Ryukyu in the offseason and helped the second-year franchise improve from 10-34 in 2007-08 to a league-best 41-11 this season.
Newton averaged a team-high 17.9 points (10th in the league) and 13.1 rebounds (third) and anchored the team’s strong defense, adding 79 blocks and 47 steals for good measure.
The former Indiana University standout also headlines the 2008-09 Best Five Team.
Commissioner Toshimitsu Kawachi, the league’s 12 head coaches and the league’s players cast ballots for the all-league team, though players and coaches weren’t permitted to vote for players on their own team.
The other Best Five players are:
• Hamamastsu Higashimikawa Phoenix point guard Michael Gardener. He was the league’s third-leading scorer (25.5 ppg), top passer (6.8 assists per game) and was No. 3 in steals (2.3 per game).
• Golden Kings guard Naoto Takushi. He averaged 9.7 ppg, dished out 4.7 apg and provided lock-down defense, including an eye-popping 10 steals on Nov. 8.
• Sendai 89ers small forward Bobby St. Preux. A pure shooter with a smart feel for the game, the All-Star Game MVP scored 21.6 ppg and hit 38.3 percent of his 3-point attempts (143-for-373).
• Evessa power forward Lynn Washington. The reigning MVP was the second-leading scorer (25.9 ppg), No. 4 rebounder (12.9) and leader on a team that lost standouts Matt Lottich, Mikey Marshall and Newton from last season’s title team.
Ryukyu’s Dai Oketani is the Coach of the Year. The former Oita head man led the Golden Kings to their first playoff berth.
Ryukyu shooting guard Shigeyuki Kinjo (13.2 ppg, 115 3-pointers) is the Most Improved Player and Hamamatsu’s Masahiro Oguchi (5.2 ppg, 1.9 spg) is the Sixth Man Award winner.