Nov. 2, 2012
Basketball Senior CLASS Award release
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - The Patriot League boasts an outstanding senior class in men's basketball both on and off the court, and it was shown again this week as three student-athletes were named as candidates for the Senior CLASS Award.
Lehigh's C.J. McCollum and Gabe Knutson and Bucknell's Mike Muscala were all named as candidates for the honor which selects student-athletes based on notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. The Patriot League is second only to the Big 10 with the three candidates, while Lehigh is the only school in the country with multiple student-athletes on the list.
McCollum has earned a number of preseason honors, including a first-team Preseason All-America selection from the Associated Press this week. He enters his senior season second in Patriot League history in career scoring, needing only 151 points to break the League mark of 2,224 held by Holy Cross' Rob Feaster (1991-95). McCollum has been a consistent scorer from day one, averaging 19.1 points per game as a freshman, 21.8 as a sophomore and 21.9 a season ago. After leading Lehigh to the Patriot League Championship with an 82-77 win at Bucknell on March 7, the Canton, Ohio native posted 30 points, six rebounds and six assists in an NCAA Tournament second-round win over Duke on March 16. McCollum is a two-time Patriot League Player of the Year and AP Honorable Mention All-American (2010, 2012). He was named ECAC Player of the Year a season ago, winning the honor over players from the ACC, Big East and Atlantic 10. McCollum garnered NABC First Team All-District laurels for a third straight season and was one of only 25 players nationally named a Lute Olson All-American by CollegeInsider.com.
Muscala comes off another outstanding season for the Bison, who won the Patriot League regular-season title and advanced in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) with a 65-54 win at Arizona on March 14. Muscala was fourth in the Patriot League with 17.0 points per game and led all players by a wide margin with 9.1 rebounds per contest. He had 16 double-doubles for the season, including a 30-point, 14-rebound effort in the League Championship loss to Lehigh on March 7. Muscala totaled 75 points and 38 rebounds combined in Bucknell's final three games. He earned first-team All-Patriot League honors for the second straight season after also receiving the Player of the Year award in 2011. Muscala was named by CollegeInsider.com to the Lou Henson All-America Team, consisting of the top 25 Mid-Major players in the country outside of the eight who made the Lute Olson squad, and also earned NABC First-Team All-District recognition for the second straight season.
Each player has received numerous preseason accolades and attention from major news outlets heading into the season. To read the preseason coverage for McCollum and Muscala, go here
Knutson averaged 12.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest while shooting over 50 percent from the field last season. He was named as a second-team All-Patriot League selection and made the Patriot League All-Tournament Team. Knuston came up big in Lehigh's two most significant wins with 23 points and seven rebounds in the Patriot League Championship victory over Bucknell and 17 points in the NCAA Tournament upset of Duke.
All three players were named to the Preseason All-Patriot League Team last week, while McCollum was recognized as the Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year.
Each has also excelled in the classroom. Muscala and Knutson are two-time members of the Men's Basketball Academic All-Patriot League Team and the Academic Honor Roll, while McCollum also made the Academic Honor Roll last season. Muscala was also named a Capital One Academic All-District selection in 2011.
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.
The candidate classes will be narrowed to 10 men's and 10 women's finalists midway through the regular season, and those 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 men's finalist and one women's finalist who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.
For a full listing of men and women's basketball Senior CLASS Award candidates, go here