April 2, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Oakland center Keith Benson received the Lou Henson National Player of the Year Award, presented to the top mid-major player in Division I basketball, Friday afternoon. The award is in its first season after being established by CollegeInsider.com.
The 2010 Summit League Player of the Year, Benson averaged 17.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game while leading Oakland to the league's regular season and tournament championships as the Golden Grizzlies posted records for league victories (17) and winning percentage (.944) along the way. Benson led The Summit League in rebounding, blocked shots (117) and double-doubles (18) while placing third in scoring. He presently ranks among the nation's top-15 in three categories: blocks (8th), double-doubles (11th) and rebounding (14th).
A five-time Summit League Player of the Week during the 2009-10 campaign, Benson's 367 rebounds were second all-time in league annals and one shy of equaling the season record. His 117 blocked shots were the third-highest season total in league history.
Benson is the first Summit League player to earn a national individual award for basketball performance. The League has had student-athletes named as the Academic All-American of the Year, Tony Bennett (Green Bay, 1992) and Brett Winkelman (North Dakota State, 2009).
Henson coached for 41 years and retired in 2005 with 779 victories, the sixth-highest total in Division I history. The all-time winningest coach at both Illinois and New Mexico State, Henson is one of only 11 coaches to take two different schools to the NCAA Final Four and led his teams to 19 NCAA appearances and fourth NIT appearances.
The Lou Henson Award selection committee is comprised of 21 members, including former players and coaches such as Steve Bardo (Illinois), Jimmy Collins (Illinois-Chicago), Rob Evans (Arizona State), Steve Fisher (San Diego State), Marvin Menzies (New Mexico State) and Scott Nagy (South Dakota State). Players eligible for the award are from the following conferences: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Great West, Horizon, Independents, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, Summit League, Sun Belt and West Coast.