From SFA Athletics
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (Press Release)- Stephen F. Austin men’s basketball seniorThomas Walkup has been selected as a candidate for the 2015-16 Senior CLASS Award. The news was announced today via a press release by the Senior CLASS Award committee.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School ®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
“We are honored to hear about this very deserved nomination for Thomas as he exemplifies what being the consummate student-athlete is all about,” said SFA head men’s basketball coach Brad Underwood. “Hard work has brought him to All-American and conference MVP status all while earning two degrees in marketing and management and doing it with the highest academic honors. Tom’s hard work and dedication make him one of the special student-athletes in all of college sports."
One of 30 men’s basketball seniors from NCAA Division I institutions around the nation who were announced as candidates for the yearly award, Walkup has the Lumberjacks off and running to a 12-5 record which includes a perfect 5-0 mark in Southland Conference play this season. Those five SLC triumphs have seen the ‘Jacks outscore their opponents by a league-best 25.8 points per game.
The reigning Southland Conference Player of the Year has been steadily scaling SFA’s all-time statistics charts since the season began. His scoring average of 16.1 points per outing leads SFA and ranks fifth among all Southland Conference student-athletes. Furthermore, his 57.1-percent field goal percentage is bettered by only three individuals in the SLC and is the 40th-highest among all NCAA Division I men’s basketball players this season.
Not just a scorer, Walkup’s versatility is perhaps his ultimate weapon as he averages 5.9 rebounds to go along with a team-best 4.4 assists per tilt. A native of Pasadena, Texas, the two-time 2014-15 All-American also serves a one of the leaders of an SFA defense that leads the 13-team Southland Conference and ranks 70th in the nation by allowing opponents to score just 66.6 points per game. The Lumberjacks own the best turnover margin in the nation - +7.1 – and are forcing 18.94 turnovers per game in 2015-16 which is the second-best per-game number of the 351 NCAA Division I squads from around the land.
Currently, the two-time SLC All-Academic First Team member ranks among the top ten in no fewer than seven of SFA’s all-time statistical charts. In the program’s NCAA Division I history, he is third in points scored (1,403), made field goals (521), made free throws (325) and career field goal percentage (.560), fourth in rebounds (622), and fifth in assists (317) as well as steals (136).
Among the 30 men’s and 30 women’s candidates, all are in excellent academic standing with 10 having grade-point averages of 3.5 or higher. Five of this year’s candidates were 2014-15 CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-Americans®, and 20 returned to the court this season after receiving All-America honors for their performance a year ago. Each of the candidates also volunteers his or her time with charitable organizations and causes while upholding a reputation for positive character on campus and in the community.
The Senior CLASS Award winners will be announced during the 2016 NCAA Men’s Final Four®.
The 30 candidate classes will be narrowed to 10 finalists in February, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.
Walkup’s next on-court test comes on Saturday evening when he leads the ‘Jacks against longtime rival Sam Houston State in William R. Johnson Coliseum at 6 p.m.