Men's golfer Brett Patterson and women's basketball star Ebony Rowe were the big winners at the third annual Raiders Choice Awards on Thursday night at Tucker Theatre.
The year-end "Academy Awards"-style show highlighted all the academic and athletic accomplishments of the Blue Raider student-athletes in their first year of competition in Conference USA.
Patterson and Rowe were both honored with the True Blue President's Award, which is the highest honor bestowed upon a current MTSU student-athlete who epitomizes all that is good in intercollegiate athletics. Presented annually to one male and one female senior student-athlete, the President's Award recognizes outstanding academic and athletic accomplishments, University/community service and leadership. This marked the second time both have won the top award.
Patterson, who carries a 4.0 GPA and is a three-time all-conference pick, led the Blue Raiders this season in scoring average, top 10 finishes and low round with a 65. Rowe adds a 3.7 GPA and is the MTSU women’s basketball program’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder.
"What a great night to celebrate the accomplishments of our student-athletes both in the classroom and in their respective sport," said Director of Athletics Chris Massaro. "This was a special night and I want to thank everyone involved."
Academically, the Student-Athlete Enhancement Center award went to Ykeem Wells (football). The highest team GPA award was won by women's cross country for spring 2013 and women's soccer for the fall.
In the individual categories, Conference USA Men's Basketball Player of the Year Shawn Jones was voted the Male Athlete of the Year, while Rowe was honored as the Female Athlete of the Year.
The Male and Female Newcomer of the Year awards went to Tiffany William of women's tennis and baseball's Dustin Delgado. William went 18-4 in singles play at No. 1 and Delgado has started every game and served as the lead-off hitter while ranking third on the team in batting average.
The Most Improved Player awards went to India Hammond (track) and Payne Denman (men's golf). Hammond was a second team All-American in the triple jump to go with 15 top five finishes, while Denman tallied a 73.7 average in 2014 as opposed to 75.1 a year ago.
MTSU golf coach Whit Turnbow was awarded the Make a Difference Award for his "True Blue Turnbow Project" in the winter. The "True Blue Turnbow Project" was a children's coat drive undertaken by Turnbow through social media that saw nearly 800 coats donated and thousands of dollars.
The tweet that started the "True Blue Turnbow Project" read as follows: "Thinking about the kids who don't have a warm place to wait on the bus or a winter jacket. If you know someone like this DM me and I will personally see to it that they get a new coat."
Fans determined the winners of the Play of the Year, Performance of the Year, and the Game/Event of the Year by voting on GoBlueRaiders.com. The Play of the Year was Tavarres Jefferson's game-winning touchdown reception vs. Marshall. Women's basketball's Keke Stewart won the Performance of the Year award for her 11 three-pointers vs. North Texas, breaking the Conference USA record. The Game/Event of the Year was the Blue Raider football team's victory over Marshall.
The Director's Cup Award was won by women's tennis. This award was created to recognize the student-athletes who go above and beyond and who demonstrate an unselfish attitude toward their team, family and community. The team who has earned the most points throughout the year in the following areas - academic achievement, community outreach, and personal development, take home this prestigious award.
Numerous athletes were also recognized for their academic honors and All-American accolades.
2014 RAIDERS' CHOICE AWARDS WINNERS
Female Newcomer of the Year: Tiffany William, Women's Tennis
Male Newcomer of the Year: Dustin Delgado, Baseball
Female Most Improved Player: India Hammond, Track
Male Most Improved Player: Payne Denman, Men's Golf
Academic Achievement Award: Ykeem Wells, Football
Play of the Year: Tavarres Jefferson's game-winning touchdown catch vs. Marshall
Performance of the Year: Keke Stewart's Conference USA-record 11 three-pointers vs. North Texas
Game of the Year: Football's last-second, 51-49 win over Marshall on Fox Sports 1 Oct. 24
Director's Cup: Women's Tennis
Team GPA Award (Spring 2013): Women's Cross Country
Team GPA Award (Fall 2013): Women's Soccer
Make a Difference Award: Whit Turnbow (True Blue Turnbow Project)
Female Athlete of the Year: Ebony Rowe, Women's Basketball
Male Athlete of the Year: Shawn Jones, Men's Basketball
Female True Blue President's Award: Ebony Rowe, Women's Basketball
Male True Blue President's Award: Brett Patterson, Men's Golf