ROCK HILL, S.C. (TheSAC.com) – Carson-Newman's Sawyer Williams was voted the South Atlantic Conference men's basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year, while McKell Oliverio from Queens earned the women's honor, the League announced today. The pair earned the honor for their achievements in academics, athletics, service and leadership.
The South Atlantic Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year award is presented annually to one student-athlete in each of the Conference's championship sports, and is voted on by the SAC's Faculty Athletic Representatives Committee.
Williams, a senior biology major, carries a 3.37 GPA. He has maintained at least a 3.25 GPA all four years at Carson-Newman to earn Eagle Scholar honors in all four seasons. A four-time Dean's List member, Williams as been named to the South Atlantic Conference Commissioner's Honor Roll in each of the past four years. This past season and during his junior year, Williams was named Academic All-District by the College Sports Information Directors Association.
"I think this award epitomizes what Sawyer has been about from day one," said Carson-Newman head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson. "He is a true student athlete, and I couldn't be prouder of this achievement. It's absolutely a testament to his character and the kind of person he is. We talk about the characteristics that it takes to be successful. Sawyer already possessed a lot of those when he got here. Then you look at the personal sacrifices he made in an incredibly challenging academic degree plan. He was super focused on his academics and athletics. His social life was a distant third. He made those two areas his top priorities, and now he sits here with this incredibly prestigious honor."
Williams turned in the best season of his career this past season as he averaged 18.2 points per game and ripped down 6.8 rebounds per contest. He eclipsed 1,500 points in the Eagles' win over Newberry to push Carson-Newman to the South Atlantic Conference Men's Basketball Championship semifinals. He is the 13th Eagle in the program's history to pile up more than 1,500 points as he closed his career out with 1,528 markers. His point total ranks him as the third-best scorer in Carson-Newman's Division II era and ranks him No. 12 all-time. Williams scored in double-digits in 37-straight games as an Eagle to post the second-longest double-digit streak in Carson-Newman history. His 61.4 career field goal percentage currently ranks him second all-time in the League's history. He also connected on 575 shots in his career to rank No. 8 all-time in the South Atlantic Conference. The Carson-Newman men's basketball team has created an award in his honor known as the Sawyer Williams Warrior Award. The award will be given for the first time at this year's annual Frosty Awards at Carson-Newman.
Williams was a nominee for the NABC Good Works Team during his junior and senior seasons. In his hometown of Owenton, Ky., Williams owns a goat farm in which he uses to work with the area's 4-H club and farmer's associations. He has won both regional and national awards for his knowledge as a goat farmer.
Oliverio carries a 4.0 GPA as a senior biology major. She earned CoSIDA Academic All-America honors this past season as she was named Academic All-District as both a junior and senior. She was named the Queens University Chief Marshall, the highest academic award at Queens given to the rising senior with the highest class. She was published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma where she co-authored a piece on opioid prescription for orthopaeic trauma. During her senior year, Oliverio received the Virginia Martin Scholarship. The scholarship is given to the school's top natural science student for their academic achievement and dedication to science. A four-time Dean's list honoree, Oliverio has been named to the South Atlantic Conference Commissioner's honor roll every year she has been at Queens.
"Being named the SAC Scholar-Athlete of the year is a tremendous honor for McKell and Queens University," said Queens University head women's basketball coach Sarah Jansen. "McKell's legacy of consistency and commitment is the epitome of being a student-athlete."
Oliverio led her squad with 356 points this past season to rank among the South Atlantic Conference leaders. She cashed in on 39 triples on the year and finished the season with 133 field goals. She converted 51 free throws to rank second on the Queens roster and was third on her team with 95 rebounds and 15 steals. During her senior season, Oliverio became the 13th player in Royals'history to score 1,000 points in her career.
In the classroom, Oliverio is a member of the Tri Beta Science Honor Society and has served as a lab assistant at Queens. She is currently a Queens University tutor in biology, chemistry and math. Her concentration in her role as at tutor specializes in cell biology and organic chemistry.
Along with her work in the classroomand on the court, Oliverio has spent time as a volunteer in Cusco, Peru as a volunteer in maternity and physical therapy clinics. She interned at Carolinas Medical Center this past summer and has spent time volunteering with the Good Samaritan Hospital. During each of her years at Queens, Oliverio has spent time as a Lunch Buddy at Sedgefield Elementary.
Oliverio earned the University of Kentucky College of Medicine Merit Scholarship and will spend the next four years studying medicine at the University of Kentucky.
Other Men's Basketball Nominees
Valentin Bauer, Mars Hill
Keith Griffin, Wingate
Nathan Lemke, Coker
James Stepp, Newberry
Other Women's Basketball Nominees
Morgan Cooper, Lenoir-Rhyne
Samara Hill, Newberry
Heather Jankowy, Anderson
Madison Lenox, Brevard
Megan Pittman, Lincoln Memorial
Sydney Shull, Coker
Shelby Tricoli, Wingate