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Thornwell, William Named Academy March Athletes of the Month

Photos: Sindarius Thornwell by Dennis Adair via Wikimedia Commons, Morgan William by Mississippi State University

University of South Carolina basketball player Sindarius Thornwell and Mississippi State basketball player Morgan William have been named the United States Sports Academy’s Male and Female Athletes of the Month for March.

Thornwell averaged 23.6 points, 7 rebounds, and 2.4 assists and shot 40.6 percent from behind the three-point line as the Gamecocks advanced to their first NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Final Four in school history in March. He scored at least 24 points in each of South Carolina’s first four tournament games.

William hit a 14-foot pull-up jumper as time expired in overtime to beat the Connecticut Huskies 66-64 in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Final Four on 31 March 2017, ending Connecticut’s 111-game winning streak. William finished with 13 points as the Bulldogs handed Connecticut its first loss since 2014. She also scored 41 points in the Bulldogs’ previous tournament game, a win against Baylor.

The two athletes are now eligible to be considered for the Academy’s prestigious Athlete of the Year Award at year’s end.

The second place finisher on the men’s side was American basketball star Russell Westbrook and third place went to American baseball pitcher Marcus Stroman.

Westbrook, of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, averaged a triple-double in 15 games in March 2017, scoring 34.1 points, 11.1 assists and 10.5 rebounds per game in the month. He scored a career high and franchise record 58 points against the Portland Trail Blazers on 7 March, then recorded 57 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in a win against the Orlando Magic on 29 March.

Stroman was named the World Baseball Classic (WBC) tournament MVP after posting a 2.35 ERA and 0.91 walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) in 14 1/3 innings in March and leading the U.S. to the championship.  Stroman gave up just one hit in more than six scoreless innings as Team USA defeated Puerto Rico 8-0 in the WBC championship game on 23 March 2017.

The second place finisher on the women’s side was American skier Mikaela Shiffrin and third place went to American track and field athlete Gwen Berry.

Shiffrin secured her first overall World Cup title at the World Cup finals in Aspen, Colo., on 18 March 2017. Earlier in the month, Shiffrin won the giant slalom and slalom races at Squaw Valley in California, which secured her fourth career slalom World Cup title.

Berry broke the world record in the 20-pound weight throw with a throw of 25.6 meters (84 feet) to break Brittany Riley’s decade-old record in the event at the USA Track & Field Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on 4 March 2017.

Each month, the public is invited to participate in the Academy’s worldwide Athlete of the Month program by nominating athletes and then voting online during the first week of every month. The online votes are used to guide the Academy selection committee in choosing the male and female monthly winners, who then become eligible for selection to the prestigious Athlete of the Year ballot. A worldwide public vote on the annual ballot is used to guide the committee in making the final selection.

The Athlete of the Year Award is part of the United States Sports Academy’s Awards of Sport program, which each year serves as “A Tribute to the Artist and the Athlete.” The Academy presents the awards to pay tribute to those who have made significant contributions to sport, in categories as diverse as the artist and the athlete in several different arenas of sport.

The awards honor exemplary achievement in coaching, all-around athletic performance, courage, humanitarian activity, fitness, and media, among others. The Academy’s American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA) annually recognizes these men and women through its Sport Artist of the Year, Honorary Doctorates, Medallion Series, Distinguished Service Awards, Outstanding Athletes, and Alumni of the Year awards. This is the 33rd year of the Academy’s Awards of Sport program.

Based in Daphne, Ala., the United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call (251) 626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.

Founded in 1984, ASAMA is dedicated to the preservation of sports art, history, and literature. The ASAMA collection is composed of more than 1,700 works of sport art across a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, assemblages, prints and photographs. The museum is open free to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. For more information, go to www.asama.org.

By Eric Mann

Eric Mann is the communications assistant at the United States Sports Academy. Reach him at emann@ussa.edu

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