Men's Basketball
Carter, Mensah Take Top Honor At Fighting Illini Scholar-Athlete Banquet

Warren Carter and Yvonne Mensah earned the DIA's top honor Tuesday night at the annual Scholar-Athlete Banquet.
Warren Carter and Yvonne Mensah earned the DIA's top honor Tuesday night at the annual Scholar-Athlete Banquet.

May 1, 2007

Scholar-Athlete Banquet Photo Gallery

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Basketball star Warren Carter (Dallas, Tex.) and track and field standout Yvonne Mensah (Surrey, B.C.) were among the University of Illinois student-athletes honored Tuesday night at the 17th annual University of Illinois Scholar-Athlete Awards Banquet, held at the Assembly Hall. Carter and Mensah were named winners of the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor, which is awarded annually at each conference school to a male and female senior student-athlete who have demonstrated proficiency in scholarship and athletics. The Big Ten Medal of Honor was first endowed in 1914 and has become the top annual award the University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics bestows.

Track and field star Yvonne Mensah's list of accomplishments is staggering: 10-time Big Ten Champion, three-time All-American, two-time Big Ten Athlete of the Championships, Big Ten Athlete of the Year and a Regional Championship highlight a long list of accomplishments for the British Columbia native. She also helped lead the Fighting Illini to the 2005 Big Ten Outdoor Title and has set new school records in both the long and triple jump. She's one of the most diverse athletes in Illinois history, appearing in the UI's top-10 performance lists on seven different events.

Even more impressive than her accomplishments on the track, however, is her involvement with the community. Mensah has been a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Camp Counselor for area high school athletes and is an FCA Outreach Program Member, speaking with community members about her experience as a Christian athlete. She also volunteers as a coach and an official with community track and field teams.

Warren Carter becomes the third straight Illinois basketball player to earn the Big Ten Medal of Honor, following in the footsteps of Jack Ingram (2005) and Dee Brown (2006). Carter stepped up big during his senior season in 2007, earning second team All-Big Ten and second team All-District honors while averaging a team-high 13.7 points per game. He was one of the most improved players in the nation, nearly tripling his scoring average from the previous year while leading the Illini to an NCAA Tournament appearance.

Carter was also very active off the court, as he is extremely active in Illinois' Hometown Heroes program, speaking a schools and banquets and serving a mentor area children. He is currently finishing an internship with the Department of Intercollegiate Athletic Identify Illinois diversity committee, where he meets regularly with cultural groups on campus.

Several other awards were handed out at Assembly Hall on Tuesday night. The male and female Newcomer of the Year Awards went to track & field standout Lesiba Masheto (Maun, Botswana) and cross country and track & field star Angela Bizzarri (Mason, Ohio), respectively. Masheto won the Big Ten Indoor 600m title and currently has the top outdoor 400m time in the nation. Bizzarri became Illinois' first ever freshman All-American after leading the Illini to its first NCAA Regional team title.

The Fighting Illini Spirit Awards, which are given to the male and female athletes who best exemplify the spirit, courage, effort and dedication of the Fighting Illini, were also handed out at the banquet. Senior baseball player Shawn Roof (Paducah, Ky.) and senior swimmer Caroline Moore (Westmont, Ill.) took home the honor this year.

Finalists for the Dike Eddleman Male and Female Athlete of the Year Awards were also announced. The Eddleman Award winners will not be announced until the conclusion of the spring sports seasons in June. Female finalists are sophomore Lana Armstrong (Rowlett, Tex.), softball; sophomore Lori Bjork (Johnston, Iowa), basketball; junior Ella Masar (Urbana, Ill.), soccer; senior Yvonne Mensah (Surrey, B.C.), track & field; junior Seul Ki Park (Winnetka, Ill.), golf; senior Cara Pomeroy (Ottawa, Ontario), gymnastics and senior Barbie Viney (Georgetown, Ky.), swimming & diving. Male Dike Eddleman Award finalists are junior Kevin Anderson (Johannesburg, South Africa), Tennis; senior Warren Carter (Dallas, Texas), basketball; junior Lars Davis (Grand Prairie, Alberta), baseball; junior Wes Haagensen (Belleville, Ill.), gymnastics; junior J Leman (Champaign, Ill.), football; sophomore Lesiba Masheto (Muan, Botswana) track & field; senior Patrick Nagle (Pacifica, Calif.), golf and sophomore Michael Poeta (Highwood, Ill.), wrestling.

In addition to honoring current student-athletes, a pair of former Illini greats were also on hand to address the nearly 600 in attendance. Volleyball player Kelly Scherr McClure, '97, and baseball player Randy Conte, '82, both former Big Ten Medal of Honor winners, each spoke about the impact that being a Fighting Illini student-athlete had on their careers.

The Scholar-Athlete Banquet is an annual event that recognizes graduating student-athletes and others that have excelled both athletically and academically. Below is a complete list of the evening's award winners and finalists.

Fighting Illini Newcomer of the Year
(Best athlete performing in his/her first year of competition at Illinois)
Female Finalists
Freshman Angela Bizzarri (Mason, Ohio), Cross Country ***WINNER***
Freshman Vicky Brown (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Softball
Freshman Nicole Cowart (Greenwood, Ind.), Gymnastics
Freshman Megan Fudge (Kaarst, Germany), Tennis
Freshman Jennifer Ivarson (Oak Brook, Ill.), Swimming & Diving
Freshman ChiChi Nweke (Virginia Beach, Va.), Soccer
Freshman Jenna Smith (Bloomington, Minn.), Basketball

Male Finalists
Freshman Jimmy Kennedy (Ingleside, Ill.), Wrestling
Sophomore Lesiba Masheto (Muan, Botswana) Track & Field ***WINNER***
Freshman Chad Wiest (Butler, Pa.), Gymnastics
Freshman Brandon Wikoff (Peoria, Ill.), Baseball
Freshman Juice Williams (Chicago, Ill.), Football

Fighting Illini Spirit Award
(Athletes who exemplify the spirit, courage, effort and dedication of the Fighting Illini)
Female Finalists
Junior Danyel Crutcher (Orange, N.J.), Basketball
Senior Brittany Koester (Chatham, Ill.), Softball
Senior Caroline Moore (Westmont, Ill.), Swimming & Diving ***WINNER***
Senior Melissa Singer (Buffalo Grove, Ill.), Gymnastics
Senior Beth Vrdsky (Downers Grove, Ill.), Volleyball

Male Finalists
Senior Cassio Pero (Chicago Heights, Ill.), Wrestling
Senior Shawn Roof (Paducah, Ky.), Baseball ***WINNER***
Junior Tyler Rouse (Champaign, Ill.), Football
Junior Chris Silcox (San Antonio, Texas), Gymnastics
Senior Trammell Smith (Lombard, Ill.), Track & Field

Dike Eddleman Athlete of the Year Finalists
(Awarded to the female and male student-athletes who have distinguished themselves in athletic achievement.)
***The Dike Eddleman Award winners will be determined following completion of the spring seasons.***
Female Finalists
Sophomore Lana Armstrong (Rowlett, Tex.), Softball
Sophomore Lori Bjork (Johnston, Iowa), Basketball
Junior Ella Masar (Urbana, Ill.), Soccer
Senior Yvonne Mensah (Surrey, B.C.), Track & Field
Junior Seul Ki Park (Winnetka, Ill.), Golf
Senior Cara Pomeroy (Ottawa, Ontario), Gymnastics
Senior Barbie Viney (Georgetown, Ky.), Swimming & Diving

Male Finalists
Junior Kevin Anderson (Johannesburg, South Africa), Tennis
Senior Warren Carter (Dallas, Texas), Basketball
Junior Lars Davis (Grand Prairie, Alberta), Baseball
Junior Wes Haagensen (Belleville, Ill.), Gymnastics
Junior J Leman (Champaign, Ill.), Football
Sophomore Lesiba Masheto (Muan, Botswana) Track & Field
Senior Patrick Nagle (Pacifica, Calif.), Golf
Sophomore Michael Poeta (Highwood, Ill.), Wrestling

Fighting Illini Outstanding Team GPA Awards
(Highest cumulative grade point average for a team)
Women's Cross Country - 3.420 Cumulative GPA, Coach Karen Harvey
Men's Gymnastics - 3.185 Cumulative GPA, Coach Yoshi Hayasaki

Outstanding Scholar-Athlete Award Winners
(Male and Female letterwinners with the highest grade point average in each class of school.)
Sophomore Lori Bjork (Johnston, Iowa) Basketball, 3.94 GPA - political science
Sophomore Tim Maier (LaGrange, Ill.), Cross Country, 3.63 GPA - mechanical engineering
Junior Momei Qu (Portland, Ore.) Tennis, 3.98 GPA - finance
Junior Ryan McDonald (Holland, Mich.) Football, 3.82 GPA - aerospace engineering
Senior Jackie Bain (Tinley Park, Ill.), Swimming & Diving, 3.88 GPA - political science
Senior Jason Bill (Buda, Ill.), Cross Country, 3.78 GPA - community health