HARTFORD — Ryan Boatright did not win the Player of the Year award, but two Huskies earned prestigious honors from the American Athletic Conference Thursday.
UConn freshman guard Daniel Hamilton was named the Rookie of the Year and senior guard Pat Lenehan was named the Scholar-Athlete of the Year at a ceremony prior to the start of the American Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament Thursday at the XL Center.
Southern Methodist point guard Nic Moore won the Player of the Year award, and Temple head coach Fran Dunphy was named the Coach of the Year.
Hamilton, who was named the Preseason Rookie of the Year in the conference before the season, finished the regular season second in the American in rebounding (7.6 per game) and ninth in assists (3.6). He was the only player in the conference to finish in the top 10 in both categories.
The Los Angeles native started all 30 games for UConn (17-13, 10-8) and was second on the team in scoring, averaging 10.8 points per game.
Hamilton has established himself as a legitimate No. 2 option to Boatright. It did not come easy, though. Hamilton struggled at various times during the season, but the elimination of his main weakness made him a better player.
“I didn’t turn the ball over as much as I did in the beginning of the season,” Hamilton said. “I’d say turnovers I improved – making decisions, decision making.”
Lenehan will be going professional in something other than basketball when he graduates in May. A molecular cell biology major, Lenehan has been named a UConn Babbidge Scholar, a University Scholar and the recipient of the Drotch Scholarship in Biology, as well as the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.
The Cheshire native has been with the men’s basketball team since the 2012-13 season and earned a scholarship for his senior year. During that time, Lenehan has maintained a 4.0 grade-point average.
Lenehan has already been accepted to medical school at Harvard, Columbia, Duke, Johns Hopkins and UConn, and he is awaiting decisions from Yale and Penn.
The senior is the second Husky to receive a conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year award since UConn moved to the Big East. Emeka Okafor won the Big East award during the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons.
“It’s an honor to receive the award,” Lenehan said. “I think it says a lot about the University of Connecticut and the basketball program, really what Coach (Kevin) Ollie stands for. I’m happy to really be a representation of what Coach Ollie wants us to do on and off the court.”
Boatright was one of two unanimous selections to the all-conference team, but was passed over in favor of the other unanimous choice, Moore, after SMU won the regular season title.
Moore led the conference in free-throw percentage and 3-point field goal percentage during the regular season, and he ranked fourth in scoring (14.4 points per game) and second in assists (5.3).
Boatright led the conference in scoring (17.8) and was sixth in assists (4.0).
“Of course he wanted to be Player of the Year,” Ollie said. “I’d be lying right in your y’all faces if he didn’t. But at the end of the day, he don’t have any control over that. What he has control over is getting our team ready to play, him being the leader and him being the point guard of our team. And I think that’s where his mindset is.”
UConn’s Amida Brimah was named the American’s Defensive Player of the Year Wednesday. The sophomore center led the league in blocked shots (101) and field-goal percentage (69.8) during the regular season.
The Huskies, the No. 6 seed, begin the American Athletic Conference tournament Thursday night against the No. 11 seed USF (8 p.m., ESPNews).