Updated: March 11, 2013 at 12:00 am
Michael Lyons became the sixth Air Force basketball player to earn first-team all-conference accolades when he was selected Monday to the top five from the Mountain West.
Lyons scored 30 points three times – including 45 against Colorado State – and led the league in scoring average (18.3). He also helped the Falcons climb from three league victories a year ago to an 8-8 record in the nation’s top-rated conference.
"It is an honor and I would not have been able to achieve it without my teammates,” Lyons said. “I am glad to be mentioned with the other great players selected.”
Lyons was joined on the first team by conference Player of the Year Kendall Williams of New Mexico, UNLV’s Anthony Bennett, San Diego State’s Jamaal Franklin and Colorado State’s Colton Iverson.
No other Falcons were included on the first three teams or earned honorable mention in the vote conducted by coaches and members of the media.
Lyons was a third-team selection as a sophomore and a second-team pick as a junior.
“Shows how hard he has worked though his time here at the academy,” coach Dave Pilipovich said.
“We are so proud of him,” Pilipovich added. “He is very deserving of this honor.”
Lyons joins a short list of Falcons to earn first-team accolades, a group that consists of Raymond Dudley (1989 and ’90) and Otis Jones (1993, ’94 and ’95) in the Western Athletic Conference and Nick Welch (2004), Antoine Hood (2006) and Dan Nwaelele (2007) in the Mountain West.
The selection is another addition to Lyons’ résumé, which compares with the best to play at the academy. He ranks fourth in program history in scoring at 1,527 points and has, in all likelihood, at least two games to score the 23 points needed to move into third.
Point guard Todd Fletcher was asked last week if Lyons might be the best player the program has ever produced.
“He’s sure up there,” said Fletcher, who is third in program history in assists. “You definitely can’t leave him out of the conversation. I can tell you it’s been great just playing with him, passing him the ball and watching him do what he can do for four years now.”
MOUNTAIN WEST MEN'S BASKETBALL HONORS
Michael Lyons, sr., G, Air Force; Colton Iverson, sr., F/C, Colorado State; Kendall Williams, jr., G, New Mexico; Jamaal Franklin, jr., G, San Diego State, Anthony Bennett, fr., F, UNLV
Anthony Drmic, soph., G, Boise State; Derrick Marks, soph., G, Boise State; Dorian Green, sr., G, Colorado State; Alex Kirk, soph., C, New Mexico; Anthony Marshall, sr., G, UNLV
Pierce Hornung, sr., F, Colorado State; Deonte Burton, jr., G, Nevada; Tony Snell, jr., G, New Mexico; Chase Tapley, sr., G, San Diego State; Leonard Washington, sr., F, Wyoming
Wes Eikmeier, sr., G, Colorado State; Tyler Johnson, jr., G, Fresno State; Malik Story, sr., G, Nevada; Hugh Greenwood, soph., G, New Mexico; Cameron Bairstow, jr., F, New Mexico; Khem Birch, soph., F, UNLV
Pierce Hornung, sr., F, Colorado State; Alex Kirk, soph., C, New Mexico; Khem Birch, soph., F, UNLV; Anthony Marshall, sr., G, UNLV; Leonard Washington, sr., F, Wyoming
Player of the Year: Kendall Williams, New Mexico
Defensive Player of the Year: Khem Birch, UNLV
Freshman of the Year: Anthony Bennett, UNLV
Newcomer of the Year: Colton Iverson, Colorado State
Sixth Man of the Year: Daniel Bejarano, Colorado State
Coach of the Year: Steve Alford, New