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Newton, Spencer named first team All-Big East; four UConn men’s players named all-conference

The UConn men’s basketball program, which set a Big East record with 18 conference wins on its way to the league’s regular-season title, had four players recognized as the Big East announced its all-conference teams on Sunday.

The program had two players named to the First Team for the fifth time ever and the third year in a row as Tristen Newton, a unanimous selection, and Cam Spencer each earned the honors. The graduate backcourt duo joins Adama Sanogo and Jordan Hawkins (2022-23), Sanogo and RJ Cole (2021-22), Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon (2003-04) and Jeff Adrien and AJ Price in (2007-08) on the list of UConn pairs to earn the honor in the same season.

Stephon Castle, a record 11-time Freshman of the Week honoree, was a unanimous selection for the All-Freshman team and sophomore center Donovan Clingan, a Bristol native, was named honorable mention all-conference.

The teams were voted on by the 11 head coaches, who are not allowed to vote for their own players.

Newton, putting together a potential All-American season, finished league-play as UConn’s leader in points (14.3), rebounds (7.3) and assists (5.8) per game. The fifth-year point guard in his second season with the Huskies didn’t receive any all-conference recognition before the season began. He’s recorded nine double-doubles and two triple-doubles this season, giving him the NCAA’s active lead with four over his career, both coming during his two-year stint at UConn.

Spencer, averaging 14.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists in league play, has proven to be one of the most impactful transfer portal additions in the nation. The Davidsonville, Md. native was significantly under recruited before starting his college career with three years at Loyola Maryland and transferring to Rutgers last season. In his graduate year with the Huskies, Spencer shot 49.2% from the field, 44.4% from beyond the arc in Big East play, leading the Huskies with 1.5 steals per game.

Newton and Spencer are the 27th and 28th Huskies all-time to be named First Team All-Big East – UConn also had four first team all-conference selections while a member of the American Athletic Conference. Castle is the 31st UConn rookie honored on the Big East All-Freshman team, with four freshmen honored during the program’s time in the AAC.

The First Team also includes Creighton’s Baylor Scheierman, Marquette’s Tyler Kolek, Providence’s Devin Carter and Seton Hall’s Kadary Richmond. The Player of the Year, which will be announced at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, will be selected from that group.

“We want team awards, we don’t have the awards that we want yet. We want championships,” Newton said Saturday. “It’ll be cool for everybody to get their awards that they deserve but we’re looking forward to the team awards and the championships.”

The Huskies clinched the program’s 11th Big East regular season title with a 30-point win over Seton Hall on March 3, and will hold a No. 1 seed as they compete for the program’s eighth Big East Tournament title and first since 2011.

The season finale win at Providence also set a new program record for regular season wins as UConn finished the year 28-3 overall.

Castle led all Big East freshmen in points (11.8), rebounds (4.4) and assists (3.0) per game in league play. The five-star rookie and projected NBA lottery pick has been a perfect fit as the Huskies’ best perimeter defender, where he typically draws a matchup with the opponent’s best player. He had 19 steals and 11 blocks during conference action.

“We have a lot of champions on our team, so just being around them day-in and day-out, you kind of just pick up (confidence),” Castle said. “Just the kind of guys we have, they really boost you, they stay humble and give you confidence on and off the court. Just being around them is boosting me for sure.”

Clingan, one of the most impactful players in the country, missed five games in December and January with a foot injury but has been one of the most dominant defensive players in the nation since he’s returned to health. Averaging 11.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in just 21.7 minutes through 15 league games, Clingan scored in double figures in six of UConn’s last seven games and had three double-doubles during that span. His field goal percentage (63.6%) ranked second in the conference.

The Big East will announce its Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player, Sixth Man Award and Sportsmanship Award on Monday. The Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, Coach of the Year and Scholar-Athlete will be announced Wednesday at Madison Square Garden before the first round of the conference tournament.

UConn’s Big East Tournament run will begin at noon on Thursday, when the top-seeded Huskies meet the winner of Wednesday’s matchup between No. 8 Butler and No. 9 Xavier.

Here are the full Big East All-Conference teams:

First Team

*Tristen Newton, Connecticut
Cam Spencer, Connecticut
*Baylor Scheierman, Creighton
*Tyler Kolek, Marquette
*Devin Carter, Providence
Kadary Richmond, Seton Hall

Second Team

Trey Alexander, Creighton
Ryan Kalkbrenner, Creighton
Oso Ighodaro, Marquette
Daniss Jenkins, St. John’s
Eric Dixon, Villanova

Honorable Mention

Donovan Clingan, Connecticut
Josh Oduro, Providence
Quincy Olivari, Xavier

All-Freshman Team

Finley Bizjack, Butler
*Stephon Castle, Connecticut
Rich Barron, Providence
Isaiah Coleman, Seton Hall
Trey Green, Xavier
Dailyn Swain, Xavier

*Denotes unanimous selection