USBWA Honors Bairstow & Neal as District Player and Coach of the Year
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  03/11/2014

ST. LOUIS, Mo. --- The University of New Mexico was one of three schools nationally to sweep District honors as Cameron Bairstow was named the District VIII Player of the Year and rookie head coach Craig Neal was named District VIII Coach of the Year by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.  In addition, Bairstow and Kendall Williams were both named to the 10 player All-District team.

The USBWA released the nine teams broken out by region this morning, based on voting from its national membership of 900-plus. There are nine regions from coast to coast and a player and coach of the year are selected in each.  District VIII includes all Division I institutions in New Mexico, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Montana and Colorado.

It marks the second straight year a Lobo coach has been honored as the District VIII Coach of the Year, as Steve Alford earned the honor last year.  Bairstow is UNM’s first District VIII Player of the Year since J.R. Giddens received the honor back in 2008.

New Mexico is one of the schools to sweep the District awards, joining Arizona in District IX (Sean Miller and Nick Johnson) and Michigan in District V (John Beilein and Nik Stauskas).

Bairstow, the conference’s leading scorer and the only player in the Mountain West that is a national Player of the Year finalist (for the USBWA’s Robertson Award).  Ironically he won the District Player of the Year Award while not winning the Mountain West Player of the Year Award, which went to San Diego State’s Xavier Thames.

Bairstow had a breakout season.  Bairstow more than doubled his career points this season, leading the Mountain West in scoring at 20.3 points per game and in field goal percentage, shooting .565 from the field.  In addition, he had 19 20-point games and was amazingly consistent, scoring less than 14 points just once all season long, and that was against UMass when he was limited by foul trouble, scoring eight.

He is one of 10 players in UNM history with 1,100 points and 600 rebounds in his career, and he has recorded just the 14th 600-point season in school history.  In addition, his scoring average was the fifth-highest scoring average in the history of the conference, and his 368 points was the third-most in conference history.  He is the first Lobo to ever lead the league in field goal percentage. 

Joining him on the All-District team was Kendall Williams, earning All-District honors for the second straight year.  He is the first Lobo to earn All-District honors in back-to-back seasons Danny Granger in 2004 and 2005.  Williams was also named First Team All-Mountain West for the second straight year.

Williams has scored 492 points and is currently seventh in career scoring at UNM.  He is also third in career assists with 598, and he is only the second player in school history to record four straight 400-point seasons, joining Kenny Thomas.  He also was the first player in school history to record a double-double in scoring and assists with no turnovers, and he was the only player in the Mountain West with three different games of nine or more assists and one or fewer turnovers.

For Neal, he is the only first-year head coach to earn District Coach of the Year honors, and the first since Steve Prohm won District IV Coach of the Year honors in 2012 after leading Murray State to a 31-2 record in his first season as a head coach. 

Neal is tied for the most wins ever by a first year head coach at New Mexico, and he is poised to become the first coach in school history to lead his team to the NCAA Tournament in his first season as head coach.  He needs four wins to move into the top 10 for most wins ever in NCAA Division I history by a first year head coach.

Other Mountain West players honored in District VIII were Colorado State’s Daniel Bejarano, Nevada’s Deonte’ Burton and Boise State’s Anthony Drmic.  Xavier Thames of San Diego State was named All-District in District IX.



Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico


Craig Neal, New Mexico


Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico
Daniel Bejarano, Colorado State
Askia Booker, Colorado
Deonte Burton, Nevada
Anthony Drmic, Boise State
Tyler Haws, BYU
Stephen Madison, Idaho
Josh Scott, Colorado
Kendall Williams, New Mexico
Delon Wright, Utah