On occasion, a Monday Mailbag question requires too much research for me to include in the weekly feature, so I end up writing it separately as a "Mailbag leftover." I got such a question this week from Schoey, who asked if any Mountain West school has swept the player of the year categories in the big three sports in the same season. Let's break it down.
So, this question was more difficult to answer than I had anticipated because each sport doesn't just have one "player of the year" winner. In football, there's an offensive and defensive player of the year. In baseball and softball, there's an offensive player of the year and a pitcher of the year. Basketball is the only sport with just one winner, although there's been co-players of the year as well. But the list of schools that have produced the Mountain West player of the year in each of your "big three" sports is small. In fact, it's happened only once in the men's sports and once in the women's sports since the MW formed in 1999. Here's the list.
Basketball: Keena Young: A 6-foot-6 forward, Young averaged 17.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game, making 54.3 percent of his shots. The Cougars went 25-9 overall and 13-3 in the MW (first place) before losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Football: John Beck: A senior quarterback, Beck completed 289-of-417 (69.3 percent) for 3,885 yards, 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The Cougars went 11-2 overall and 8-0 in the Mountain West (first place), winning its last 10 games, including the Las Vegas Bowl over Oregon.
Baseball: Jesse Craig, BYU: Craig earned the MW pitcher of the year honor — player of the year went to New Mexico's Jordan Pacheco — but I'd still consider this the trilogy. Craig went 10-2 with a 2.94 ERA in 20 starts for a team that went 37-20 overall and 17-7 in the MW (second place)
That's the only time a MW team has "swept" the conference player of the year honors in basketball, football and baseball. Schools have won two-thirds of those crowns 22 times, including Utah doing so six times, San Diego State four times, Fresno State twice, TCU twice, New Mexico twice, UNLV twice, Nevada twice and BYU once. Nevada did so in 2017-18 (Caleb Martin in basketball and Grant Fennell in baseball) and 2020-21 (Carson Strong in football and Dillan Shrum in baseball).
Basketball: Ambrosia Anderson: Anderson was MW co-player of the year along with Utah's Kim Smith. A 6-2 forward, Anderson averaged 17.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 steals per game. She made 41.3 percent of her shots, including 36.4 percent from three as BYU went 26-6 overall, 13-3 in the MW (first place) and reached the NCAA Tournament's second round.
Softball: Ianeta Le’i: Le'i won the MW player of the year honors — SDSU's Christina Ross was pitcher of the year — after hitting .406 with a 1.267 OPS. A 5-7 first baseman, Le'i slammed 18 homers with 73 RBIs in 57 games as BYU went 43-22 overall and 15-5 in the MW (second place) en route to a Regional berth. She was a 2016 inductee into the BYU Hall of Fame.
Volleyball: Lindsy Hartsock, BYU: A 6-4 middle blocker, Hartsock won player of the year honors as a junior after recording 289 kills, 132 blocks, 55 digs, 22 assists and 25 aces. She scored a career-high 384.5 points. BYU went 25-4 overall, 14-2 in the MW (first place) and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament
That's the only time a MW team has "swept" the conference player of the year honors in basketball, softball and volleyball. Schools have won two-thirds of those crowns 16 times, including Colorado State doing so five times, Utah doing so four times, San Diego State three times, BYU twice and UNLV and Fresno State once each. Since moving to the MW in 2012, Nevada hasn't won player of the year in women's basketball, softball or volleyball. I found this incredible: Colorado State won MW volleyball player of the year seven straight years (2009-15) and 10 times in an 11-year period (2009-15, 2017-19).
So, I hope that answers your question. In the men's sports, no school has ever won MW basketball player of the year, offensive football player of the year and position player of the year in baseball. Those are the three most prestigious awards. Nevada came close this season with Carson Strong (MW offensive player of the year in football), Dillan Shrum (MW baseball player of the year) and Grant Sherfield probably being third in the voting for MW basketball player of the year. But BYU is the only school that can claim the trilogy for now.
Columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.