Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Men's Basketball

Clark Named American Player of the Year, Williams Rookie of the Year & Sampson Coach of the Year

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Cincinnati senior forward Gary Clark became the first player in American Athletic Conference history to earn three individual awards in the same season, as he added Player of the Year accolades to previously being voted the Defensive Player of the Year and earning the Sportsmanship Award. Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson was voted the Coach of the Year, while ECU freshman Shawn Williams was selected the Rookie of the Year.
Clark’s senior season culminated with No. 8 Cincinnati winning The American regular-season title as the Bearcats claimed their first outright conference title since 2002.
Earlier in the season, Clark became just the fifth player in Cincinnati history with over 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds. Clark has keyed No. 8 Cincinnati’s defense to an adjusted defensive efficiency rating that is among the 20 best in the 17 history of the KenPom ratings. Clark’s 8.2 rebounds per game pace The American, while he ranks sixth in blocks (1.3 per game) seventh in steals (1.5).
Clark is the first Cincinnati player to earn player of the year honors in conference history.
Likewise, Williams becomes the first ECU player to be voted the conference’s rookie of the year. After sitting out the 2016-17 season, Williams led all freshmen in The American with 12.2 points per game. On four occasions, Williams eclipsed 20 points in a game, capped by a 30-point effort against Memphis on Feb. 3.
In conference play, Williams elevated his game, averaging 14.6 ppg to go along with 38.7-percent shooting from three-point range.
Sampson guided Houston to a No. 21 national ranking – the first time the Cougars were ranked in both polls at the same time since the end of the Phi Slama Jama era in 1984. The Cougars tied for second-place in The American, the program’s best finish in the five-year history of the conference. Houston’s 24 wins mark the third straight year under Sampson with 20-plus wins, bettering the 22 in 2015-16 and 21 last season.

The Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year awards were voted on by the league’s 12 head coaches.
The 2018 Aaron’s American Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Championship will begin with four first-round games on Thursday, March 8, culminating with conference title game on Sunday, March 12 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

For more information on the American Men’s Basketball Championship, please visit championship central at www.theamerican.org/mbb.
2018 American Athletic Conference Awards
Player of the Year
Gary Clark, Cincinnati
Coach of the Year
Kelvin Sampson, Houston
Rookie of the Year
Shawn Williams, ECU