(Portions of this story courtesy of the NCAA)
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Thirty women, selected
from a group of nearly 430 nominees, have been chosen as the top 30
honorees for the NCAA Woman of the Year award. Among the 30 was
former Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference student-athlete
Sharwil Bell, who was named the SCAC's Co-Woman of the Year in
Bell is the second consecutive SCAC Woman-of-the-Year nominee to earn Top 30 honoree status, following Trinity University's Hayley Emerick, who became just the league's second-ever top nine finalist in 2010-11. Trinity's Christyn Schumann became the league's first-ever top-nine finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year award in 2006.
The top 30 women are composed of 10 honorees from each NCAA division and span various NCAA sports. In September, three finalists will be chosen from each division to form nine finalists for the award. The 2012 Woman of Year will be announced and the top 30 women will be honored during an Oct. 14 ceremony in Indianapolis.
Bell is the first student-athlete from Rhodes College to earn the SCAC Woman-of-the-Year honor. A Biology Major with a Business Minor and the owner of a 3.94 grade-point average, she received the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship and was a finalist for the 2012 Josten’s Trophy – an award given annually to one male and one female Division III basketball student-athlete who excels in the classroom, on the court and in the community.
A native of Memphis, Tenn., Bell was a two-time First Team
All-SCAC performer her last two seasons in the conference and was
selected Third Team in 2009-10 when she was also recognized as the
A Capital One Academic All-America® Women's Basketball First Team selection, Bell averaged 15.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game during the 2011-12 season and shot 43.3 percent from the field. She led the Lynx to an 18-8 overall mark in 2011-12, which tied the school record for single-season wins.
Bell, who transferred to Rhodes from Elon, ended her three-year career run with the Lynx with 1,247 points (sixth in school history) and 574 rebounds and was voted team MVP all three seasons. Most recently, she was named the recipient of the Rebecca Rish Gay award – signifying the top women’s senior athlete at Rhodes College.
In addition to her successes on the court and her studies in the classroom, Bell filled her little spare time with various campus and community service activities. She served as Vice President of the Mortar Board National Honor Society as well as Secretary and Vice President of Rhodes’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and has been a campus Peer Mentor for Serving Our Students since 2010. Away from campus, Bell has worked as a Physical Therapy Shadow at both Methodist University Hospital and the Campbell Clinic for Orthopedics.
"Sharwil has been the premier student-athlete on our campus for three years," said Rhodes head women's basketball coach Matt Dean. "Besides being a tremendous player, she became the best leader I have ever coached. In my opinion she is the finest student-athlete in all of NCAA intercollegiate athletics. It has been a pleasure to coach her these last three years."
The top 30 honorees reflect the pillars of the Woman of the Year award, with outstanding achievements in academics, athletics, community service and leadership. For example:
- Cumulatively, the top 30 earned a 3.87 grade-point average and more than 90 Academic All-America honors.
- The top 30 earned nearly 20 national championships (individual and team) and nearly 110 All-America honors.
- The top 30 volunteered for more than 375 organizations during their college careers.
- Many served as team captains and held leadership positions in various campus and community organizations.
Alecia Shields-Gadson of Coppin State, NCAA Woman of the Year selection committee chair, described the extraordinary commitment to academics and athletics by each of the top 30 honorees.
“Being an NCAA student-athlete takes dedication to both academic and athletic excellence,” said Shields-Gadson, who will chair the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee starting next month. “These women rose to that challenge and became leaders on the court, in the classroom and in their communities. The Woman of the Year honorees are excellent role models and will most certainly continue to make a positive impact on the world.”
For the complete list of the top 30 NCAA Woman of the Year finalists, click here.