BLOOMINGTON, Minn.—The 2014-15 MIAC men's basketball season has certainly been one to remember and, Thursday, the top performers that delivered highlight after highlight all season long were honored with the announcement of the 2015 MIAC Men's Basketball Awards.
The top individual honor went to Bethel senior star Kyle Zimmermann, as the league's leader in scoring and rebounding was named the conference's Joe Hutton Player-of-the-Year. In addition to the individual honors, the MIAC also announced the All-Conference Team, All-Defensive Team, All-Rookie Team, All-Conference Honorable Mention selections and the All-MIAC Sportsmanship Team. All awards are nominated and voted on by the MIAC's 11 head coaches.
Zimmermann starred all season for the Royals en route to his Player-of-the-Year award. He's the second Bethel player to claim the conference's top honor in the last three years, joining Taylor Hall in 2012-13. The forward's MVP season is even more impressive considering he came back strong after appearing in only nine games in the previous season before suffering a season-ending injury. Zimmermann also received his second career All-MIAC honor after also receiving the award in 2012-13 and he was named a member of the MIAC All-Defensive Team. The senior received the MIAC Athlete-of-the-Week award an astounding four times during the 2014-15 regular season.
Zimmermann's name was all over the MIAC leader board throughout the season, as he led the conference in scoring (17.6 ppg), rebounding (9.6 per game), field goal percentage (60.7) and was second in free throws (107) and third in steals (44) in overall games. In MIAC games only, he was also the league leader in scoring (16.8 ppg), rebounding (9.7 per game), second in field goal percentage (58.8) and free throws (75) and eighth in steals (29). Zimmermann helped Bethel to a 19-9 overall record and a 13-7 mark in conference play, which was good for fourth place and a spot in the MIAC Playoffs. In the conference postseason, Zimmermann had three double-doubles while leading Bethel to the championship game, where it lost a 66-63 heartbreaker to St. Thomas.
Zimmermann was one of five players to earn a second career All-Conference honor in 2014-15. Among the five was also sophomore Brycen Wojta, as he has earned the league award every year at Bethel. Wojta, the first freshman honored to the All-MIAC squad since 2005-06, put up 14.7 points per game, while shooting 46.5 percent from the floor and 41.7 percent from downtown. Bethel's sharp-shooter also finished 81.3 percent from the charity stripe. He ranked third among MIAC players in points (411) and free-throw percentage, fourth in assists (90), fifth in points per game (14.7), and eighth in steals (36).
Despite the fact that Wojta was one of just two freshman ever honored to the All-Conference Team since 1995-96, he'll now be joined among the short list by teammate Bridgeport Tusler. Tusler was the third member of the Royals squad awarded All-MIAC recognition, as he finished No. 1 among league foes in steals (52), No. 8 in points (348) and assists (69), No. 9 in points per game (13.4), and No. 32 in rebounds per game (3.7). Tusler's overall performance this year also put him on the five-player All-Freshman Team.
As part of a conference-wide sportsmanship initiative, the MIAC also announced the ninth annual All-MIAC Sportsmanship team for men's basketball. Members of the All-MIAC Sportsmanship team are selected by their coaches and teammates as individuals who demonstrate ideals of positive sportsmanship both on and off the field of competition. Kyle Zimmermann represented the Royals on this select list as well.