Diverse | Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars 2013
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- Ryan A. Evans
by Craig T. Greenlee

When it comes to defying all the odds, belief is a powerful weapon. Just ask Ryan Evans. As a youngster, Evans envisioned himself playing big-time college basketball in the biggest arenas around the country. In so many instances, he was told that he would never make it. As things turned out, it’s a good thing that Evans never listened to the cynics.

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- Jessica N. Harlee
by Dianne Hayes

Confident, determined and smart, Jessica Nicole Harlee pushes herself on and off the basketball court. A junior at West Virginia University, Harlee embodies the gentle spirit of Arthur Ashe as a calm leader with impeccable focus on her studies and helping her team to victory.

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  • Andrew J. Nunez

    Caldwell College junior Andrew J. Nunez led the Cougars baseball team with a .310 batting average with 12 runs, two doubles, a triple, a homer and five RBI in 2012; he posted a .393 slugging percentage as a member of Caldwell ollege’s baseball team. Heis a member of Caldwell’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and he helped to create the Student-Athlete Mentor (SAM) program for incoming student-athletes.

  • Laurence R. Bowers

    As a senior on the University of Missouri basketball team, Laurence Bowers has contributed a great deal, and was named ESPN’s Comeback Player of the Year in December. Bowers received the Director of Athletics Leadership Award in
    2012, was named to the Spring 2012 Academic All-Big 12 Team (he was named to the second team in 2010). He was also a dean’s list scholar and a member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll in 2012.

  • Twany E. Beckham

    Twany Beckham saw limited action in his senior season at the University of Kentucky due to injuries. The 2012 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll for the 2011-2012 season. Beckham has also dedicated a tremendous amount of time to volunteer efforts in the community.

  • Christopher J. Burnette

    University of Georgia junior Christopher Burnett started 12 games for the Bulldogs’ football team last season. In 2012, he was named to the Phil Steele All-SEC Second Team and the All-SEC Coaches Second Team.  In 2011, he earned one of the team’s David Jacobs Awards as a player who portrays courage, spirit, character and determination. Burnett has won a number of scholarships, awards and fellowships. He served as the Student-Athletic Advisory Committee’s football representative, was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll in 2010 and 2011 and was inducted into UGA’s Student-Athlete Leadership Academy.

  • Javier N. Balboa

    Javier Balboa is a senior on the University of Iowa’s gymnastics team.  In 2012, he had 16 top-five event finishes and three first-place event finishes. Balboa placed 14th in the allaround on the first day of the NCAA Championships, fifth in the all-around in Session I of the NCAA Qualifier, fourth on parallel bars at the NCAA Qualifier; he broke his own school record on the event. He was named to the Academic All-Big Ten team in 2012 and has been on the Dean’s List multiple times.

  • Devin D. Hedgepeth

    Devin Hedgepeth had seven tackles in his four games as a sophomore corner for Oklahoma StateUniversity’s football team, including six solo stops. In 2011, he was named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team and the President’s Honor Roll and the Dean’s Honor Roll. He is a five-time Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll member. He was in the top 20 percent of his class as a junior and is a frequent guest speaker at local high school graduations.

  • Joel J. Kight

    University of Mississippi senior Joel Kight has been a consistently valuable member of the Rebels’ football team.  He received the Scholar-Athlete Award from the Ole Miss Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. In 2009 and 2010, Kight was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll, and he was named to the Dean’s Honor Roll in 2010, 2011 and 2012. He was selected as an Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar in 2011 and 2012.

  • German E. Decena

    German Decena led the William Paterson University Pioneers with 78 tackles as a senior in 2012.  Decena finished ninth in the league in tackles/game (7.8). He was also named to the 2012 All-New Jersey Athletic Conference First Team
    (defense). Decena is a member of the 2012 Capital One/College SportsInformation Directors of AmericaFootball Academic All-District 2 Team and a three-time Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar. He is also a frequent Dean’s List scholar.


  • Kastine E. Evans

    Kastine Evans has seen action in 69 career games with 46 starts on the University of Kentucky’s women’s basketball team. She is second on the team in three-point field goal percentage (.366) and 12th in steals in the SEC (1.7 spg).  Evans was named to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll in Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 and 2012, the SEC Freshman Honor Roll and overall Honor Roll for the 2011-12 school year. She is also a 2012 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar.  She has served as a Student-Athlete Advisory Committee representative since 2011.

  • Shayla J. Bivins

    Shayla Bivins has played in 24 career games, averaging 0.4 points and 1.3 rebounds for Georgia Tech’s women’s basketball team. She has been on the dean’s list for 10 consecutive semesters.She is also a member of the ACC Academic  Honor Roll, Delta IotaEpsilon Honor Society. She also servedas president of the Student-AthleteAdvisory Board and served as the Student Government Association’s Athletic Association Representative and a member of the Georgia Tech Athletic Association Board of Trustees.

  • Monique Weathers

    Benedict College’s Monique Weathers averaged 9.0 points per game, thirdhighest on the team in her senior season with the Tigers. She led the team with 62 3-pointers made and also shot a team best 76.6 percent from the free throw line. Weathers was named to the SIAC T o u r n a m e n t All-Tournament Team. She is also a dean’s list scholar and a member of the school’s student-athlete advisory committee.

  • Ta’Kenya Nixon

    Ta’Kenya Nixon has scored 1,760 career points as a member of Eastern Illinois University’s women’s basketball team, third in school history. She is also third in career steals (259) and career assists (585). She is second in the OVC and 26th nationally in assists with 5.8 per game. She ranks ninth in the OVC in scoring (13.8 ppg), 13th in rebounding (6.1 rpg), ninth in field-goal percentage (.442), second in assists (5.8) and third in steals (2.4). Nixon is a three-time All-OVC First Team Selection and a Two Time OVC Defensive Player of the Year.

  • Michelle Ikoma

    The University of North Carolina’s Michelle Ikoma is a Phi Beta Kappa gymnast. She was a 2012 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar and earned EAGL All- Academic honors three times. Ikoma is also a three-time All-ACC Academic Honor Roll member and a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council. She scored a season-best 9.725 at the NCAA Regional. Her personal bests include a 9.775 on the vault, 9.725 on the uneven bars, 9.650 on the balance beam, 9.75 on floor exercises and 38.425 all-around.

  • Alexandra B. Couzo

    Alexandra (Allie) Couzo has been the starting goalie for the Felician College soccer team for four years. She has been named to the All Academic CACC team and as an Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar in 2012. She is also a peer supporter and a member of the school’s honors program.

  • Ifeatu I. Okafor

    Ifeatu Okafor advanced to the West Preliminaries of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships as a member of the Texas Tech University team. She was the 2011 Big 12 Shot Put Champion, 2011 Outdoor All-American and 2011 Indoor All-American. She was named to the Big12 Commissioners Honor Roll and the Academic All-Big 12 First Team. Okafor is also president of the Texas Tech Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

  • Minami K. Yamamura

    Minami (Katie) Yamamura led the Big West conference as a gymnast at the University of California–Davis in RQS on vault (9.81), bars (9.80) and all-around (38.925), ranked fourth in conference on beam (9.705) and ranked third in conference on floor (9.785).  She was 2012 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Gymnast of the Year and 2012 All-MPSF Team on every event and all-around. In 2012, she broke the school record in the all-around. She was also the 2012 MPSF Vault Champion. Yamamura was named to the 2010 Capital One Academic All-America Second Team and was the 2012 Most Outstanding UC Davis Scholar Athlete.

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