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Hamilton, James: Big East's Best

Connecticut swingman Richard Hamilton, the Big East player of the year last season, was selected Tuesday to share the award this season with Miami forward Tim James.

Miami's Leonard Hamilton was chosen coach of the year and Notre Dame's Troy Murphy was selected rookie of the year in a voting of the league's coaches.

It was third time in the league's 20-year history player of the year honors were shared as Chris Mullin of St. John's and Patrick Ewing of Georgetown did it as juniors and seniors in 1984 and 1985.

Richard Hamilton, a 6-foot-6 junior, joins those two as the only players to win the award more than once, and Mullin also won it as a sophomore in 1983.

Hamilton led the Huskies to the conference regular-season title and was the league's scoring leader in conference games this season at 22.1 points. His 1,020 points are the most any player has had after three years in the league.

James, a 6-7 senior, averaged 18.9 points and 8.3 rebounds for the second-place Hurricanes and this season became just the seventh player in league history to have 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in conference play.

The 6-9 Murphy led the conference in rebounding at 10.3 -- the first freshman to ever do that -- and field goal percentage at .534. He averaged 18.9 points, which was fourth best in the league.

Leonard Hamilton, who was coach of the year in 1995, led the Hurricanes to a 21-5 overall mark and 15-3 in the league, easily the best marks since they joined the Big East in 1991. Miami was 8-1 on the road in the conference this season, a record even more remarkable since the school had a total of 11 league road wins in its history before this season.

Tim James shares top honors in the Big East.>
Tim James shares top honors in the Big East. (AP)

Syracuse junior center Etan Thomas was chosen the league's defensive player of the year. Thomas, named the league's most improved player last season, averaged four blocked shots per game and his total of 167 has him in fifth place on the career list.

Miami junior Johnny Hemsley, a first-team all-league choice this season, was selected as most improved player after averaging 17.4 points.

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