Dwight Hardy, Justin Burrell honored

NEW YORK -- Another day, another honor for Dwight Hardy.

One day after being named to the All-Big East first team, the St. John's guard was announced as the winner of the Big East Most Improved Player award.

"With so many great players in the Big East, it is a privilege to be considered the most improved player," Hardy said. "I spent many hours in the gym working on my game, and this award recognizes the progress I've made. My coaching staff and teammates really believe in me and have helped to make me a better player."

Also, St. John's forward Justin Burrell was given the Big East Sixth Man of the Year award.

"This is really exciting, getting this award was one of the goals that Coach Lavin and I talked about from the beginning of the year," Burrell said. "This could have never happened without my teammates and our unbelievable coaching staff. Coach Lav and Coach Dunlap have been with me from the beginning of the year, and they deserve the credit."

Hardy -- a 6-foot-2 sharpshooter from the Bronx -- blossomed under first year coach Steve Lavin in his senior season. He is St. John's leading scorer, and the fourth leading scorer in the Big East, at 17.9 points in 33.9 minutes per game. A year ago, Hardy came off the bench in all but two contests, and averaged 10.5 points in 22.2 minutes per game.

Burrell -- a 6-foot-8 bruiser, also from the Bronx -- is averaging 6.6 points and 5.0 rebounds in 21.1 minutes per game off the bench for the Red Storm this season. But his impact, particularly on the defensive end, is not adequately reflected by those numbers. Burrell had several big performances this season, including 15 points and eight rebounds in the team's win over Pittsburgh on Feb. 19.

Syracuse forward Rick Jackson was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year, and Pittsburgh guard Brad Wanamaker won the Big East Sportsmanship Award, also announced on Monday.

Kieran Darcy covers college sports for ESPNNewYork.com.