WKU Basketball Stars Earn School’s Highest Honor

By: Brian Fremund, WKU Athletic Media Relations
By: Brian Fremund, WKU Athletic Media Relations

Bowling Green, Ky. — Western Kentucky University announced Tueday that All-America basketball players Crystal Kelly and Courtney Lee have been selected the John O. Oldham Student-Athletes of the Year.

It’s the second year in a row that Kelly, who hails from Louisville, Ky., has claimed the award. The Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, she also picked up All-America accolades from the coaches’ association, Associated Press and cbssportsline.com after averaging 22.6 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in her final year on the Hill. In addition to leading the nation with a school-record .644 field-goal percentage, she ended the year ranked sixth nationally in scoring and eighth in rebounding.

Kelly, one of 17 finalists for the John R. Wooden Women’s Player-of-the-Year Award, also earned first-team all-Sun Belt honors for the fourth straight year, and was named to the all-Sun Belt Tournament team after leading the Lady Toppers to their league-record ninth conference tournament title. She was a four-time winner of the league’s Player-of-the-Week award as well.

She’s the first WKU female student-athlete to win the honor in back to back years since ShaRae Mansfield — also a women’s basketball player — achieved the feat in 2000 and ’01, and just the third to earn that distinction since the award’s inception in 1973.

Lee, an Indianapolis, Ind., native, was the 22nd overall selection in this summer’s National Basketball Association Draft after also picking up All-America honors from the Basketball Times and Associated Press. He was voted the SBC Player of the Year, was a first-team all-league selection and made the all-tournament team as well after averaging 20.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per outing while helping the Hilltoppers to a 29-7 finish on the way to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

He also paced the squad with 65 steals and 69 three-point field goals, adding 75 assists and 28 blocked shots as well. Additionally, Lee shot a career-best 47.7 percent overall from the field, making 39.7 percent from three-point range, and sank 82.2 percent at the foul line to wrap up his final collegiate season ranked in the top 20 in the SBC in eight different statistical categories.

A three-time league Player of the Week, he ended the season in the top 100 in the country in scoring (28th), free-throw percentage (89th) and steals (92nd).

Kelly and Lee emerged from a field that included 11 total candidates — six male and five female — in voting conducted among the school’s head coaches and athletic administrators.

Other women who turned in individual performances worthy of consideration for the school’s top honor include volleyball All-American Megan Argabright; Claire Donahue, a swimmer who won two individual titles and was part of two victorious relay teams at the Sun Belt championships; Janet Jesang, who placed 47th at the NCAA cross country championships and was named the Outstanding Track Performer at the Sun Belt indoor championships; and, Sun Belt women’s soccer Player of the Year and third-team all-region selection Morgan Thomas.

The men’s ballot included Wes Brown, an NCAA postgraduate scholarship award winner who also was named first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District IV; All-American designated hitter Chad Cregar, who was also chosen the Sun Belt Conference Newcomer of the Year and first-team all-league; placekicker Chris James, who ended his career as the football program’s all-time leader in both total scoring and field goals; Brent Long, a participant in the NCAA men’s golf championships who was selected both all-region and all-conference; and Gavin Smellie, a member of WKU’s All-America 4x400-meter relay team that finished eighth at the NCAA indoor championships who was also named the Outstanding Track Performer at the Sun Belt’s outdoor meet.

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