Somerset, NJ - Quinnipiac junior forward Justin Rutty (Newburgh, NY/Newburgh Free Academy) was selected as the 2009-10 Northeast Conference (NEC) Men’s Basketball Player of the Year in a vote conducted by league head coaches. Robert Morris freshman guard Karon Abraham (Paterson, NJ/Harp Academy) was picked unanimously as NEC Rookie of the Year, while Robert Morris senior guard Mezie Nwigwe (Hyattsville, MD/High Point) was chosen NEC Defensive Player of the Year. Sacred Heart senior center Liam Potter (Lincolnshire, England/Tilton School (NH)) was the recipient of the inaugural NEC Most Improved Player award. Jim Phelan Coach of the Year honors went to Quinnipiac’s Tom Moore. The honorees were announced on a media teleconference to promote the 2010 NEC Men’s Basketball Tournament, which began with quarterfinal play at four campus sites.
Rutty becomes Quinnipiac’s first NEC Player of the Year after a dominant season in the post for the Bobcats, who head into March as the top seed in the NEC Tournament. Most notably, Rutty has become the face of a program that has reinvented itself through its ability to attack the glass. Unmatched physically by his conference peers, the Newburgh, NY native leads the NEC in rebounding for the second straight year and is 13th nationally with 10.8 rpg. Rutty has also earned recognition as one of the top offensive rebounders in the nation. After finishing second nationally in offensive rebounding as a sophomore, he ranks third in Division I this season with 4.9 per game. Along with his ferocious work on the boards, Rutty continued to refine his offensive game in 2009-10 and enters the postseason third in the conference in field goal percentage (.539) and eighth in scoring (15.0 ppg). He has compiled a conference-best 14 double-doubles on the year and 27 over the course of his career, a Quinnipiac Division I record. In just three years, Rutty has moved up to 19th on the NEC career rebounding chart with 762 and has a good chance of ending his career as the league’s all-time leader in the category. The 6’7", 240 lb. forward also cracked the 1,000-point mark this season (up to 1,088) and was a two-time Choice Hotels NEC Player of the Week. Rutty joins former Bobcat Nate Pondexter (1998-00) as two-time first team All-NEC performers.