Illinois State men's basketball senior guard Paris Lee is the 2017 Missouri Valley Conference Larry Bird Player of the Year and the MVC Defensive Player of the Year, the league office announced Tuesday.
The all-time steals leader at ISU, Lee is the first Redbird to earn the league's top individual player honor in 16 seasons. In addition to averaging 13.0 points per game, Lee leads the league in steals (2.0), assists (5.1) and 3-pointers (69).
Lee received 110 total points to outdistance Wichita State's Markis McDuffie (34 points) and Landry Shamet (30 points).
A Maywood, Illinois, native, Lee is the nation's active leader with 244 steals, good for sixth place on the all-time MVC list. Lee ranks fifth all-time for Illinois State with 471 career assists, tied for 18th in MVC history.
With two more starts Lee will surpass ISU head coach Dan Muller for the all-time school record for career games started. Lee helped lead the Redbirds to their first regular-season title since the 1997-98 season, while ISU set program records with 25 regular-season wins and 17 MVC victories.
Along with earning MVC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year accolades, Lee was also named Tuesday to the All-Missouri Valley Conference First Team and the MVC All-Defensive Team.
Fellow senior guard Tony Wills also earned All-Missouri Valley defensive honors. Senior forward Deontae Hawkins and junior forward MiKyle McIntosh were each named to the All-MVC Second Team, and sophomore forward Phil Fayne garnered MVC All-Newcomer Team recognition. ISU's six All-MVC honors marked the most for the Redbirds since also earning six in 2002.
The Missouri Valley Conference regular-season champion Illinois State men's basketball team is the No. 1 seed in the 2017 State Farm MVC Tournament held at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. The Redbirds begin play Friday at noon versus the winner of Thursday night's No. 8 Evansville versus No. 9 Indiana State game.