KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Texas A&M senior All-America candidate Takia Starks (Houston, Texas) is among a high-achieving group of 20 NCAA Division I men’s and women’s basketball players who were identified as finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award that has become the premier honor for senior student-athletes.
Wednesday’s announcement launches a nationwide balloting process to determine the 2009 award winner in both the men’s and women’s divisions. Lowe’s, an official Corporate Partner of the NCAA will announce and present the men’s basketball winner with the distinctive Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award trophy in front of a national television audience during the CBS telecast of the NCAA Men’s Final Four® in Detroit. During the same weekend, the women’s basketball recipient will be presented with her award during the NCAA Women’s Final Four® in St. Louis.
Starks, a 5-foot-8 guard for the fourth-ranked Aggies, is one of 10 women’s finalists along with Jada Frazier of New Orleans, Rachel Galligan of Eastern Illinois, Shalee Lehning of Kansas State, Renee Montgomery of Connecticut, Courtney Paris of Oklahoma, Koren Schram of Dartmouth, Kristi Toliver of Maryland, Abby Waner of Duke and Christina Wirth of Vanderbilt. She is currently averaging a team-leading 16.0 points per game which ranks fourth-best among Big 12 Conference scoring leaders and has reached double figures in each of A&M’s league games.
This marks the eighth consecutive year that the award has recognized outstanding senior basketball student-athletes. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages those leaders to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact on their circle of influence.
These 10 names will be placed on the official ballot for a nationwide vote beginning Feb. 4 and concluding March 22. Votes from coaches and media will be coupled with fan balloting to determine the recipient of the award. Fans can vote online during this time period at www.seniorclassaward.com.
For the first time in the basketball division, text voting will also be available during the voting period. To vote via text, fans can send the text code corresponding with the student-athlete of their choice to 839863. Aggie fans can vote for Starks by entering text code WB7.
The prestigious awards program honoring collegiate seniors was launched during the 2001-02 basketball season with men’s and women’s basketball. Sponsored by Lowe’s, an Official Corporate Partner of the NCAA, the program added six additional sports in 2007 and expanded this past year to include NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision seniors.
“Basketball was the original inspiration behind this award and it has been embraced throughout the nation for saluting senior student-athletes who elect to stay in school, earn their degree and get involved in their community,” said Bob Gfeller, Lowe’s senior vice president of marketing. “Each of these young men and women selected as finalists for the 2009 basketball award has displayed tremendous character while making an impact both on-and-off-the-court.”
Finalists were selected from a list of 30 candidates in each division, based on personal qualities that define a complete student-athlete. Each finalist displays numerous accomplishments across all four award pillars: classroom, community, character and competition.
Starks, a two-time All-Big 12 First Team selection, is working toward a bachelor’s degree in leadership at Texas A&M and is on course to graduate in May.
“The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award puts a positive spotlight on our NCAA student-athletes who are on a track to earn a college degree,” stated Greg Shaheen, NCAA Senior VP for Basketball and Business Strategies. “The NCAA is proud to honor student-athlete leaders who have demonstrated their commitment to excel in competition and in the classroom.”