SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference announced its January athletes of the month for men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, rifle and wrestling Monday, highlighting excellence among student-athletes during the month.
Desonta Bradford, ETSU, Sr., G
ETSU guard Desonta Bradford stuffed the stat sheet for 15.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game in January, helping the Bucs extend their win streak, currently at 15 games, with a 9-0 month. The senior from Humboldt, Tennessee, shot nearly 52 percent from the floor in January, going 46-for-89, and had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.1 with 37 assists and just 18 turnovers. Bradford scored at least 12 points in each contest, including a season-high 23 points to go along with 10 rebounds in the Bucs’ 73-71 win at The Citadel to end the month. He had 12 points and nine rebounds in a win over UNCG on Jan. 11 and had 17 points and seven boards in a win over Wofford on Jan. 27. In a win over Mercer on Jan. 24, he scored 15 points and matched his career high with nine assists. Perhaps Bradford’s biggest bucket of the month came on Jan. 18, as he hit a floater in the lane with just 4.5 seconds left to lift ETSU to a 62-61 win at Furman. Bradford hit at least two 3-pointers in six of his nine January games and was 34-for-39 from the free-throw line (87.2 percent).
Others nominated: Zane Najdawi (The Citadel), Stephon Jelks (Mercer), Francis Alonso (UNCG), Justin Coleman (Samford), Nat Dixon (Chattanooga), Mike Amius (Western Carolina) and Fletcher Magee (Wofford).
Keke Calloway, Mercer, Jr., G
KeKe Calloway averaged 21.4 points per game while helping Mercer to a perfect 7-0 record in January and extend its win streak to 17 games. Calloway made 57 shots from the field, including 30 from behind the 3-point line, while also averaging 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. The junior started the month with back-to-back career highs, dropping 34 points and recording five steals in a win at Wofford. Calloway followed that performance with a 40-point outing at Furman as she made 14 buckets, including an NCAA record-tying 12 triples. The 12 3-pointers shattered the SoCon’s previous record of nine and her 40 points are the most scored by a SoCon player this season. Following wins at Samford and against UNCG, the Forsyth, Georgia, native scored 23, including her 1,000th career point, against Western Carolina and 21 at ETSU behind a 5-for-6 performance from long range. The 5-9 guard rounded out the month with 17 points, five rebounds and two steals at Chattanooga as the Bears won for the first time inside McKenzie Arena and snapped Chattanooga’s 53-game home SoCon winning streak. With at least eight games left in the season, Calloway has already set a new program single-season record for 3 pointers made (78) and ranks fifth in the NCAA and first in the SoCon in that category. Calloway ranks among the top 15 in four other SoCon statistical categories.
Others nominated: Tianna Tarter (ETSU), Ije Ajemba (UNCG), Olivia Crozier (Samford), Keiana Gilbert (Chattanooga) and De’Ja Green (Wofford).
MEN’S INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD
Arsène Guillorel, Samford, Sr.
Samford’s Arsène Guillorel, a senior from Pontchateau, France, turned in a time of 4:01.06 in the mile at the Samford Invitational at the Crossplex in Birmingham, Alabama, on Jan. 19, posting the top collegiate time and finishing fifth overall. His time is the best in the SoCon this season by more than six seconds and was the fourth-best time in NCAA Division I at the time and is now 28th. Guillorel was named the SoCon track athlete of the week on Jan. 24.
Others nominated: Dakota Lamont (Western Carolina).
Tray Oates, Samford, R-Sr.
Samford’s Tray Oates placed fourth in the elite competition of the National Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nevada, on Jan. 12. The redshirt senior from Acworth, Georgia, turned in a vault of 5.58 meters (18 feet, 4 inches), good for a new school record as well as the conference lead. His mark ranks fifth among NCAA DI student-athletes this indoor season. Oates also won the pole vault at the Samford Invitational on Jan. 19 with a height of 5.30 meters and was named the SoCon field athlete of the week on Jan. 17.
Others nominated: Ben Johnson (ETSU).
WOMEN’S INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD
Karisa Nelson, Samford, Sr.
Samford’s Karisa Nelson was the top collegiate finisher and second overall in the 800-meter run at the Samford Invitational on Jan. 19. Her time of 2:05.87 is the best mark in the SoCon this season by more than two seconds and is now 16th in NCAA DI but was fourth at the time. The senior from Brewton, Alabama, who was the SoCon track athlete of the week on Jan. 24, is the reigning NCAA champion in the mile.
Others nominated: Kyra Atkins (ETSU) and Ty-Leah Hampton (Western Carolina).
Selena Popp, Samford, Jr.
Samford’s Selena Popp won the pentathlon with a score of 3,912 at the Samford Multi on Jan. 19-20. The junior from Hixon, Tennessee, won the high jump and long jump portions of the competition and finished second in the 800-meter run en route to the 162-point win and SoCon track athlete of the week honors. Her score leads the SoCon by more than 500 points and is 22nd in Division I so far this season but was sixth at the time. Popp also placed sixth in the high jump with a leap of 1.69 meters and ran in the 60-meter hurdles preliminary heats at the UAB Blazer Invite on Jan. 12.
Dakota Spivey, North Georgia, Jr.
North Georgia’s Dakota Spivey got off to a solid start in 2018, posting a pair of impressive scores against several nationally ranked teams. In a match on Jan. 19 that included No. 3 Kentucky, host No. 4 Murray State, No. 12 Jacksonville State, No. 16 Memphis and No. 18 UT Martin, the junior from Dahlonega, Georgia, shot a 581, just one point shy of his season high. Spivey then posted a 573 against the third-ranked Kentucky and No. 16 Memphis on Jan. 27, helping lift North Georgia’s ranking to No. 19 overall. In the SoCon, Spivey owns both the second- and third-highest smallbore scores and the second-highest aggregate score this season.
Others nominated: Allison Auten (The Citadel) and Courtney Weekley (Georgia Southern).
Allison Auten, The Citadel, Jr.
Shooting against four top-25 teams, Auten averaged a 582.75 in the month of January. Auten posted her third-highest score of the year with a 585 against No. 9 Air Force and No. 24 VMI on Jan. 27. A native of Abbeville, South Carolina, Auten finished second in the air rifle discipline on Jan. 20, posting a 579 against No. 22 Georgia Southern and Wofford. The junior owns the second-highest SoCon air rifle score of the season (588) and boasts four of the top-10 scores in the conference this year.
Others nominated: Courtney Weekley (Georgia Southern) and Ruthanne Conner (North Georgia).
Bryce Carr, Chattanooga, Sr., 184 pounds
Posting a January record of 10-2 for Chattanooga, Bryce Carr’s month included five pins and two technical falls in the 184-pound division. Carr finished third at the Southern Scuffle, going 5-1 with two pins and a technical fall. Carr’s only loss was a 2-0 decision to Northern Iowa’s eighth-ranked Drew Foster, while he earned wins over No. 18 Dylan Gabel of Northern Colorado and No. 19 Michael Coleman of Navy. The senior from Dublin, Georgia, also went 5-1 in the Virginia Duals, with his lone loss coming in overtime, again to Foster, then ranked 11th. Carr finished the month on a streak of three straight pins and holding an overall record of 20-5 (4-0 SoCon). Carr is currently the 10th-ranked wrestler at 184 pounds according to the NCAA Coaches Panel.
Others nominated: Gavin Londoff (Appalachian State), Jere Heino (Campbell) and Nate Higgins (SIUE).
Southern Conference January Athletes of the Month
Men’s basketball Desonta Bradford, ETSU
Women’s basketball Keke Calloway, Mercer
Men’s indoor track and field – track Arsène Guillorel, Samford
Men’s indoor track and field – field Tray Oates, Samford
Women’s indoor track and field – track Karisa Nelson, Samford
Women’s indoor track and field – field Selena Popp, Samford
Rifle – smallbore Dakota Spivey, North Georgia
Rifle – air rifle Allison Auten, The Citadel
Wrestling Bryce Carr, Chattanooga