By Nick Seeman
After becoming the first Cowboy to earn Mountain West Player of the Week three times in a season, Hunter Maldonado made it another first, as he was named the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association on Tuesday.
No other Cowboy player has garnered the honor.
As the Mountain West Conference Player of the Week, Maldonado was nominated for the weekly award, which was chosen by a representative of the USBWA board of directors from a list of Division I conference players of the week.
Once again, the USBWA will select a Division I men’s National Player of the Week each Tuesday throughout the season. The USBWA has named Oscar Robertson National Players of the Week since the 2009-10 season.
A 6-7 senior from Colorado Springs, Colo., averaged 24.0 points per game, 6.7 assists and five rebounds in three conference wins and has helped lead the Pokes to their best start in conference play since the 2001-02 team that also opened the season 8-1 in the MW.
In three games this past week, he shot 55 percent from the field for the week and was 19-of-23 from the free throw line (83 percent).
Monday night, Maldonado posted a career-high 35 points in an 84-78 overtime win against Colorado State. He shot 63 percent from the field in the game and added seven assists.
He then added 16 points and seven assists on Thursday night against Boise State, a 72-65 win.
To cap the week, he scored 21 points to go with six assists and five rebounds in a 61-59 win at Fresno State on Sunday.
Maldonado, the Mountain West’s third-leading scorer (19.3), is the first Wyoming player to earn the USBWA’s national weekly honor and the second straight Mountain West honoree this season, joining UNLV’s Bryce Hamilton a week ago. Maldonado’s 6.4 assists per game are fourth in the nation.
Since the 1958-59 season, the USBWA has named a National Player of the Year. In 1998, the award was named in honor of the University of Cincinnati Hall of Famer and two-time USBWA Player of the Year Oscar Robertson. It is the nation’s oldest award and the only one named after a former player.
At the conclusion of the regular season, the USBWA will name finalists for the award, which is voted on by the entire membership.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball.
It has selected an All-America team since the 1956-57 season. For more information on the USBWA and the Oscar Robertson Trophy, contact executive director Malcolm Moran at 814-574-1485.