DERRICK BYARS NAMED SEC PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Southeastern Conference coaches named Vanderbilt senior swingman Derrick Byars the 2007 SEC Player of the Year, announced league officials on Wednesday.
Byars ranked as the league's second leading scorer during SEC play, averaging 19.1 points per game and was listed among the league leaders in seven other statistical categories. He helped lead Vanderbilt's (20-10, 10-6 SEC) run to second place in the SEC Eastern Division with several key performances throughout the conference season and posted several clutch performances against ranked opponents.
"It means a great deal to me that the coaching staffs at other schools in the league took notice of my performance," Byars said. "I owe a great deal of thanks to my teammates and coaches at Vanderbilt who have had confidence in me and have always been there to push me to be become a better player."
A two-time SEC Player of the Week award winner this season, Byars recorded his best week in a Vanderbilt uniform in mid-February when he netted a career-high 32 points on 11-of-15 shooting in the Commodores' 78-68 win over South Carolina on Feb. 14. Three days later he tied Foster for team-high honors with 24 points in Vanderbilt's 83-70 victory over then-No. 1 Florida on Feb. 17. Byars made 11-of-19 field goal attempts against the Gators while tying his career-high with eight assists and establishing a new personal best with five steals.
Byars, who is averaging 16.9 points and 5.1 rebounds this season, becomes the third Commodore chosen as the SEC Player of the Year by the league's coaches, joining forward Dan Langhi in 2000 and center Will Perdue in 1988.
"I think he is the most deserving player in the league to win this award," Stallings said. "He has been remarkably consistent, played great in big games and really lifted our team to a different level. Those are the things that league players of the year do."
COLLEGE BASKETBALL EXPERTS TAB BYARS AS CANDIDATE FOR SEC PLAYER OF THE YEAR
A pair of college basketball experts has placed Vanderbilt's Derrick Byars on the radar for consideration for the SEC's Player of the Year award. CBS Sports broadcaster Clark Kellogg and ESPN.com senior college basketball writer Andy Katz both have said recently that Byars' strong play warrants his inclusion among the league's most elite players.
SECOND IN SCORING SINCE START OF LEAGUE PLAY
Byars enters play Saturday second in the SEC in scoring since the start of league action with 19.1 points per contest. He is second only to South Carolina guard Tre Kelley's 21.5 average.
The Memphis native, who transferred from the University of Virginia after two seasons, enters Saturday ranked among the SEC leaders in seven other statistical categories: 3-pointers per game (tied for fifth at 2.53), field goal shooting (seventh at 48.8 percent), 3-point shooting (eighth at 39.2 percent), assists (11th at 3.53), steals (tied for 13th at 1.47), assist-to-turnover ratio (14th at 1.13-to-1) and rebounding (tied for 18th at 5.3).
Continuing to make his case for SEC Player of the Year, Byars put together his best week in a Vanderbilt uniform two weeks ago. The University of Virginia transfer scored a career-high 32 points on 11-of-15 shooting to go along with seven rebounds in the Commodores' 78-68 win over South Carolina on Feb. 14. Three days later he tied Shan Foster for team-high honors with 24 points in Vanderbilt's 83-70 victory over No. 1 Florida on Jan. 17. Byars made 11-of-19 field goals against the Gators while tying his career high with eight assists and establishing a new personal best with five steals.
Byars has keyed several other recent wins including Sunday against Kentucky when he scored 21 of his game-high 26 points in the second half, helping lead Vanderbilt back from a 10-point second-half deficit. Byars rebounded his own missed free throw attempted and hit a floater with 26 seconds remaining to give the Commodores their first lead of the contest. Wednesday at South Carolina he scored eight of his 18 points in overtime as Vanderbilt pulled out a 99-90 victory.
Byars has played a vital role in Vanderbilt's recent success, leading the Commodores in scoring in 10 of their last 14 games -- scoring 20 or more points eight times. His scoring streak started with a 25-point performance at home against then-No. 16 Tennessee on Jan. 10.
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES VS. RANKED FOES
Byars has performed well against nationally ranked opponents, averaging team highs for points (19.8), rebounds (4.9) and and steals (1.8). He is shooting 53.6 percent from the field (60-of-112) and 37.5 percent from 3-point range (18-of-48) in Vanderbilt's eight games against ranked teams this season.
Byars has led the Commodores in scoring in five of their last six games against ranked teams. He averages 19.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and shooting 53.6 percent from the field in eight games against ranked opponents.
-- Posted 24 points on 11-of-19 shooting against then-No. 1 Florida on Jan. 17.
-- Recorded a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds at then-No. 21 LSU.
-- Scored 23 points with eight rebounds at then-No. 25 Kentucky on Jan. 20.
-- Tallied 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting against then-No. 10 Alabama.
-- Registered 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting with seven rebounds against then-No. 16 Tennessee on Jan. 10.
ACCOLADES FOR BYARS
Tabbed the midseason SEC Player of the Year by Athlon Sports.
Named National Player of the Week by ESPN's Dick Vitale and CollegeInsider.com after his performances against South Carolina and top-ranked Florida last week.
Earned the SEC Player of the Week (Week 14) after shooting an amazing 64.7 percent from the field (22-of-34), 46.1 percent from 3-point range(6-of-13) and averaging 5.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.5 steals in wins over South Carolina and top-ranked Florida. He netted a career-high 32 points against the Gamecocks and posted 24 points with a career highs in assists (eight) and steals (five) against the Gators.
Earned the SEC Player of the Week (Week 11) after he averaged 19.0 points and 6.0 rebounds while shooting 56.5 percent (13-of-23) from the field and 53.8 percent (7-of-13) from 3-point range while helping lead Vanderbilt to wins over nationally ranked Alabama and Kentucky. He registered 15 points and a trio of 3-pointers in Vanderbilt's 94-73 home victory over then-No. 10 Alabama on Jan. 17.He posted a game-high 23 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field with four 3-pointers and a game-high eight rebounds in the Commodores' 72-67 win at then-No. 25 Kentucky on Jan. 20.
Named Southeastern Conference Player of the Year by the league's coaches ... 2007 Unanimous First Team All-SEC selection by the league's coaches ... 2007 Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American ... Named First Team All-SEC by the Associated Press ... Named All-District 7 as a senior by the National Association of Basketball Coaches ... Chosen All-District 4 as a senior by the United States Basketball Writer's Association ... Ranked second in the SEC averaging 19.1 points during league play ... Ranked among the SEC leaders in nine statistical categories for the season - more than any other player in the league ... Led Vanderbilt in scoring 17 times during the season, including 14 of the last 20 games ... Led the Commodores in scoring in seven of its 10 games against ranked opponents, averaging 20.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and shooting 51.4 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from 3-point range ... Tallied 19 of his game high 27 points after halftime in Vanderbilt's 78-74 double-overtime win against Washington State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament ... Twice named SEC Player of the Week ... Netted 24 points in Vanderbilt's 83-70 over No. 1 Florida in Nashville ... Accounted for 25 points in Vanderbilt's 82-81 victory against then-No. 16 Tennessee ... Poured in a career-high 32 points against South Carolina in Nashville ... Started all 34 games played for the Commodores, averaging 17.0 point s in 31.4 minutes.
Averaged 22.6 points and 12.7 rebounds in five games during a mission trip to Brazil as part of Sports Reach ministries. The team consisted of six other players from the SEC.
Started all 30 games for the Commodores, averaging 31.5 minutes ... Ranked second in the SEC in 3-point shooting percentage (.441), making 63 of 143 attempts ... Ranked seventh in the league, averaging 2.10 3-pointers per contest ... Finished second on the team in scoring at 12.4 points per game ... Led the Commodores in assists with 3.2 per game ... Shot 62.5 percent from 3-point range (10-of-16) and 56.5 percent from the field (12-of-23) while averaging 19.0 points in two games at the SEC Tournament ... Named SEC Player of the Week (Nov. 28-Dec. 4) after netting a season-high 25 points with five 3-pointers against Cincinnati (12/10) and 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting against Oregon (11/30) ... Handed out a season-best eight assists at Ole Miss (3/1) ... Scored in double figures in 20 games ... Led the Commodores in steals 12 times, assists eight times and scoring seven times.
2003-04 (Sophomore at Virginia):
Started 18 of 31 games played, averaging 20.9 minutes ... Averaged 7.5 points and 3.4 rebounds ... Scored in double figures 11 times ... Scored 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field, including a trio of 3-pointers at Loyola Marymount (12/19) ... Recorded a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds against Coastal Carolina (12/22) ... Netted 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field and 6-of-6 from the charity stripe against Iowa State ... Scored 18 points at No. 19 Wake Forest (1/31).
2002-03 (Freshman at Virginia):
Started 16 of 31 games played, averaging 20.9 minutes ... Averaged 6.5 points and 2.9 rebounds ... Scored a season-high 20 points and swiped five steals coming off the bench in a 72-65 win over Gardner-Webb (12/19) ... Netted 16 points as a reserve in an 84-76 victory over East Tennessee State (12/17) ... Scored 15 points and was 4-of-6 from 3-point range in the win over Florida State (1/29) ... Tallied 10 points in victory over Kentucky (11/26) at the Maui Invitational Tournament ... Grabbed a season-high eight rebounds in the win over Chaminade (11/25) in Maui ... Started the first five games of the season ... Made two free throws with 1:56 left to play to provide the final margin of victory in a 61-58 home victory over N.C. State (2/9) ... Shot 42.4 percent (14-of-33) from 3-point range in the last 14 games in which he played ... Scored in double figures 10 times.
Ridgeway High School:
Named fourth-team Parade All-America and Gatorade Player of the Year in Tennessee as a senior, averaging 23.2 points, 10 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in 2002 ... Earned First Team All-State honors and was a Tennessee Mr. Basketball finalist as a senior ... Chosen the District 15-AA regular season Player of the Year, Tournament Most Valuable Player, Most Valuable Player in the Region 8-AA Tournament and was the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) Class AA State Tournament Most Valuable Player ... Helped lead Ridgeway to the District 15-AA Tournament championship, the Region 8-AA Tournament title, the West Tennessee Substate title and the TSSAA Class AA State Championship in 2002 ... Named the Memphis Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Class AA Best of Preps Player of the Year ... Shot 37 percent from 3-point range and 77 percent from the free throw line ... Earned honorable mention All-State honors and was named to the Region 8-AA All-Tournament Team, the District 15-AA Tournament's Most Valuable Player and a First Team All-District selection during the regular season ... Three-year letterman and starter for head coach Wesley Henning.
Derrick JaVaughn Byars ... Born April 25, 1984 in Memphis, Tenn. ... Son of Barbara and David Byars ... Has fours siblings, including brothers David Byars (33), Darryle Byars (35) and sisters Desiree Anderson (34), Bridget Byars (20) ... Majoring in sociology ... Nickname is "Dee Bee" ... Advice to youngsters: "Always do what your parents or guardian says; set goals in life; and don't let anything stand in the way of what God has in store for you" ... Chose Vanderbilt over Mississippi State, Tennessee and Ole Miss.