Stewart named SLC Student Athlete of the Year - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Stewart named SLC Student Athlete of the Year

Northwestern State starting guard Gary Stewart has been named the Southland Conference Men's Basketball Student-Athlete of the Year, the league office announced Tuesday in conjunction with the release of the men's basketball all-academic teams.

Stewart, the 2011-12 male winner of the Southland's Steve McCarty Citizenship Award for outstanding community service and campus leadership, carries a 3.52 grade point average as a psychology major.

A junior from Vidalia, Stewart started the final 27 games for a Northwestern State team that led the nation in scoring during the regular season and finished with an 80-points per game average and 23 wins, tying for the second-most victories in a season in 100 years of basketball at Northwestern State.

He helped the Demons (23-9) claim their third Southland tournament title in their seventh SLC Finals appearance with a 68-66 win over Stephen F. Austin, giving Northwestern a return trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Demons notched their second victory in three meetings with regular-season champion SFA, as each game was decided in the final 10 seconds with the combined margin of victory for both teams only seven points.

Stewart averaged 5.4 points per game and had a season-best 19 points in a 100-88 win at Central Arkansas, which was one of six double-figure scoring games this season. Stewart averaged 2.8 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 18 minutes of action per game.

Stewart, a two-time Southland all-academic selection, is the first Demons' men's basketball player to be named Student-Athlete of the Year. He is the ninth NSU student-athlete to receive the honor in any sport this century.

Previous Northwestern winners were Amanda Bennett (women's basketball, 2003-04), Anneline Zerwick (women's tennis, 2004-05), Paul Mefford (football, 2003, 2005), Bobby Barbier (baseball, 2005), Cary Bruno (softball, 2008), Dudley Guice (football, 2008), Eric DeBlanc (baseball, 2010) and Trecey Rew (women's track and field, 2011).

There was one automatic selection on the all-academic teams with Oral Roberts guard Mikey Manghum, who earned a spot on the Capital One Academic All-District 7 Team. The remaining nine all-academic honorees were selected by a vote of the league's head coaches, sports information contacts and academic advisors.

Three student-athletes are earning all-academic selections for the second time in their career, including Stewart, Stephen F. Austin guard Desmond Haymon and Southeastern Louisiana forward Onochie Ochie. Joining Stewart on the first-team are Manghum, Haymon, McNeese State guard Kevin Hardy and Stephen F. Austin forward Jacob Parker.

Manghum, a Derby, England, native, is a finance major with a 3.94 GPA. Haymon, who hails from Durant, Miss., carries a 3.20 GPA in kinesiology. Hardy, a member of the league's all-defensive team from Lake Charles, La, boasts a 3.50 GPA in electrical engineering. Rounding out the first-team honorees is Parker, a sophomore from Bixby, Okla., who carries a 3.54 GPA in kinesiology.

Second-team honorees include Sam Houston State junior DeMarcus Gatlin, Ochie, Central Arkansas junior Jordan Harks, SFA sophomore Thomas Walkup and Nicholls State senior Linden Smith-Hyde. Gatlin, who is from Houston, Texas, holds a 3.11 in kinesiology. Ochie, a two-time all-academic selection from Albany, Ga., had a 3.31 GPA in communication. Harks, a marketing major from Lombard, Ill., holds a 3.17 GPA. Walkup, who hails from Padadena, Texas, holds a 3.41 GPA in kinesiology. Completing the all-academic team is Smith-Hyde, a Sydney, Australia native. The senior guard holds a 3.07 GPA as a mass communication major.

Stephen F. Austin landed three all-academic selections while Northwestern State, Oral Roberts, McNeese State, Sam Houston State, Southeastern Louisiana, Central Arkansas and Nicholls had one selection each.

The Southland Conference awards committee, which consists of one administrator from each of the 10 member schools, voted for the student-athlete of the year.

The student-athlete of the year award is presented to the student-athlete who achieves excellence in both academics and athletics. All nominees shall have earned at least a 3.2 GPA on a 4.0 scale and demonstrated achievement in athletics for at least two years at the nominating institution.

The all-academic teams are voted on by the head coaches, sports information directors and academic advisors from each Southland Conference university. Student-athletes must possess a 3.0 cumulative GPA, have completed one full academic year at the nominating institution and participated in at least 50 percent of the team's competition to qualify for the all-academic squad.

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