AJ Green was the highest-rated recruit that had ever committed to the University of Northern Iowa basketball program when he decided to stay in his hometown and play for the Panthers. He was considered a four-star prospect and ranked among ESPN's top 100 recruits in the 2018 class.

 

Now, he's a two-time Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year and is taking home the Larry Bird Trophy once again. He's the 10th player in league history to win the award a second time and the first to do it since Fred VanVleet won the award for Wichita State in 2014 and 2016. He's the only UNI Panther to win the award twice.

Jason Daisy (1997), Adam Koch (2010), and Seth Tuttle (2015) are the only other UNI student-athletes to earn the league's top individual honor.

Green finished the regular season with averages of 19.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists over 36.3 minutes per game. He shot 41.7% from the field and 37.1% from three.

Need I mind you -- this is all after double hip surgery ended his 2020-2021 season early, and the Panthers started their season with a 4-7 record.

As you can see above, Green wasn't the lone Panther to earn an individual Missouri Valley Conference award today. Bowen Born, the 2020-2021 MVC Freshman of the Year, turned around this season -- following injuries and adjusting to the return of Green -- and earned the Sixth-Man of the Year, honored to the league's best bench player.

This season, Born has averaged 7.6 points, 1.8 assists, and 1.2 rebounds over 23 minutes a game. He reached double figures in scoring in UNI's last three games, including 20 points against Loyola on Saturday.

Noah Carter, who many considered to be worthy of a first-team spot, finished just shy, earning a position on the MVC Second Team. He put up 14.8 points, hauled in four rebounds, and dished out 1.6 assists over 25.9 minutes per game this season.

This all comes after UNI won the 2021-2022 Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title, defeating the Loyola Ramblers last Saturday. The Panthers will play their first game in the MVC Tournament on Friday at noon.

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Northern Iowa has some of the best athletes and athletic programs in all of mid-major sports. With their consistent placement towards the top of the Missouri Valley Conference, it's no surprise they have a few professional athletes to their name -- here's a few.

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The state of Iowa is absolutely loaded with next-level talent: here are some of the best of the best that will be representing our state in the NFL Combine.