OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Two West Coast Conference men’s basketball student-athletes and one women’s basketball student-athlete were named candidates for the 2015-16 Senior CLASS Award Tuesday. All-American guard Kyle Collinsworth of BYU, 2016 Preseason All-WCC First Team selection Elle Tinkle of Gonzaga and 2016 Preseason Player of the Year Kyle Wiltjer of Gonzaga earned spots on the prestigious list.
Sixty NCAA men’s and women’s basketball student-athletes who excel both on and off the court were selected as candidates today for the award in collegiate basketball. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. The complete list of candidates follows this release.
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.
Among the 60 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 and NCAA Women’s Final Four.
Each of 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 male candidate and one female candidate who best exemplify excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.
Collinsworth has led BYU to a 13-6 record so far this season while averaging 14.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 2.1 steals. After setting the NCAA single-season triple-double record last season with six, Collinsworth has added three to his total this season to become the NCAA’s all-time career leader with nine. Collinsworth is on track to become BYU’s all-time leader in total rebounds and assists.
Tinkle has appeared 110 games during her career at Gonzaga. She started in all 10 of her appearances this season. The Missoula, Mont. native averaged 10.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in those 10 showings before suffering a season-ending injury.
Tinkle was named preseason All-West Coast Conference after being named First Team All-WCC last season. During her junior season, she averaged 14.9 points per game during conference play, which was ninth in the WCC. In WCC action, Tinkle was second in the league shooting 50.6 percent from the field, and 43.8 percent from behind-the-arc, which was fourth in the WCC. Also in conference play, she was fifth in steals (2.1), seventh in blocks (1.0), ninth in three-pointers made per game (1.9), and 16th in rebounds (5.9).
Tinkle, an Academic All-Conference selection in 2014-15, scored a season-high 15 points against Eastern Washington on Nov. 19. She recorded her career-high of 26 points versus San Diego last season.
Wiltjer has posted huge numbers for the GU men’s team, leading the league in scoring at 22.4 points per game and has posted 12 games this season with at least 20 points. The forward leads the team with 45 three-pointers and a .872 free throw percentage. Wiltjer also has four double-doubles this season and is second on the team in rebounding at 7.5 per game.
Wiltjer was also named to the Gonzaga President’s List for the Fall 2015 semester for his work in the classroom. He is coming off a fantastic junior season, becoming the seventh Zag to earn the WCC Newcomer of the Year Award and was named a USBWA Second Team All-American among a laundry list of honors.