Basketball

Gonzaga's Rui Hachimura named West Coast Conference Player of the Year

Kyodo

Rui Hachimura was named the West Coast Conference 2018-2019 Player of the Year on Tuesday after helping lead Gonzaga University, currently the nation’s No. 1 team, to its seventh straight regular-season title and 20th consecutive win.

The 21-year-old junior was also named to the All-WCC First Team, featuring the league’s top 10 players, for the second season in a row. He averaged 20.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game for the Bulldogs, shooting 61.3 percent from the floor in more than 30 minutes per game.

Hachimura’s teammate and fellow junior forward Brandon Clarke picked up a double, claiming the Defensive Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year awards, while Gonzaga coach Mark Few was named Coach of the Year as the university swept the league’s individual honors.

Gonzaga is looking to secure its 21st straight NCAA Tournament appearance at the WCC tournament, which begins Thursday. The top-seeded Bulldogs have a bye into the semifinals in Las Vegas on Monday.

Hachimura was born in Toyama Prefecture to a Japanese mother and Beninese father. The 203-cm forward is considered among the top prospects likely to make themselves available in the 2019 NBA Draft with ESPN predicting he will be selected midway through the first round.