CARBONDALE — Fifth-year senior guard Tyler Smithpeters was named the Missouri Valley Conference's Sixth Man of the Year Tuesday, as the league announced its all-league teams.
A product of nearby Harrisburg, Smithpeters averaged 7.5 points per game this season and led the team with 45 3-pointers. He made at least one 3-pointer in 14 straight games from Jan. 3-Feb. 17. The Salukis are 11-5 when Smithpeters makes multiple 3-pointers in a game this season.
Other highlights this year include his first career three-game stretch of double-figure scoring (Jan. 3-9). Smithpeters also recorded his first career double-double against North Carolina A&T. He currently ranks 10th all-time in career 3-pointers at SIU with 143.
To win the award, a player cannot have started more than 25 percent of a team's games. Smithpeters has started just five times out of 31 games for SIU (19-12). He is the first Saluki to win the league's Sixth Man award since Tony Young did it in 2005. Other Salukis who have won the award include Joshua Cross (2000) and LaMar Owen (2004).
Three other Salukis were honored Tuesday, junior guards Armon Fletcher and Sean Lloyd and junior center Kavion Pippen.
A 6-foot-5 junior guard, Fletcher was named second team All-MVC. Since the Salukis switched to a four-guard offense on Dec. 13 and moved Fletcher to the "hybrid forward" position, the team is 15-8 and his stats have shot up. He finished the regular season as the team's leading scorer with 14.2 points per contest. Fletcher had a career night at Valparaiso on Jan. 6 with 32 points and 14 rebounds. He made the game-winning basket at Missouri State with six seconds left, and the go-ahead 3-pointer versus Valparaiso with less than a minute left on Feb. 3.
Pippen picked up third team All-MVC and All-Newcomer Team honors. The 6-foot-10 transfer from Three Rivers (Missouri) Community College has been one of Southern's most consistent players, scoring in double figures in all but seven of the team's 31 games. He averages 12.3 points and leads the team in rebounding (5.8) and blocked shots (39).
Lloyd was tabbed for the All-Defensive Team. He averages 11.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals. The 6-foot-5 junior is third in the league in minutes played per game (34.4) and is usually assigned to guard the opponent's top scorer.
Loyola guard Clayton Custer was the MVC player of the year. Illinois State forward Milik Yarbrough was the league's newcomer of the year, and Ramblers freshman center Cameron Krutwig was the freshman of the year. The Valley's coach of the year and scholar-athlete of the year award winners will be announced Thursday.
The league is expected to announce its All-Bench and Most Improved Teams Wednesday.