Javion Hamlet award

North Texas guard Javion Hamlet drives to the basket as Louisiana Tech guard DaQuan Bracey defends during a game at the Super Pit last season. Hamlet was named the Michael L. Slive Conference USA Male Athlete of the Year on Tuesday.

North Texas guard Javion Hamlet took Conference USA by storm in his debut season with the Mean Green.

Hamlet guided UNT to the regular season conference title and was named the league’s Player of the Year. That award turned out to be a prelude to an even bigger honor that arrived Tuesday, when C-USA’s athletic directors named him the league’s Michael L. Slive Conference USA Male Athlete of the Year.

Hamlet was one of 10 finalists for the award. Each of the 10 received player of the year honors in their individual sports.

“It’s a very big blessing,” Hamlet said in a video interview C-USA posted after announcing him as the winner. “I couldn’t have done it without my coaches, my teammates and obviously the Man Above. I’m speechless right now.”

Hamlet is the first UNT player to win the award. The school joined the league ahead of the 2013-14 season.

UNT was picked to finish seventh in C-USA’s preseason coaches’ poll. Hamlet helped the Mean Green exceed expectations with a remarkable debut campaign after transferring in from Northwest Florida State College.

Hamlet led UNT with an average of 14.6 points per game. The junior’s 4.7 assists per game ranked second among C-USA players.

Hamlet acknowledged he needed some time to settle in after arriving at UNT last summer. He found his groove during conference play and made a series of clutch plays that helped UNT win the league title.

Hamlet’s runner at the buzzer gave UNT a 51-50 win over Louisiana Tech and its first win in Ruston since 1952.

The Mean Green went on to finish 20-11 on the season and 14-4 in C-USA play. UNT’s 14 league wins is a program record.

One of the last of those wins was a 78-72 overtime thriller against traditional league power Western Kentucky. The win gave UNT its first championship since capturing the Sun Belt’s West Division title in 2009-10 and its first overall league title since winning the Southland in 1988-89.

“He has been a huge part of our success because of his belief,” UNT coach Grant McCasland said of Hamlet following the game.

UNT was the No. 1 seed heading into the C-USA tournament and was guaranteed at least a bid in the NIT as a regular-season conference champion.

That opportunity vanished when the COVID-19 pandemic forced C-USA officials to call off the conference tournament after opening-round games in March. The NCAA tournament was canceled a short time later.

Missing out on playing in the postseason was tough for Hamlet, who has vowed to come back and build on one of the most memorable seasons in recent UNT history for any athlete.

“We’re going to use this as motivation to work hard and do bigger and better things next year,” Hamlet said earlier this year.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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