TORONTO (U SPORTS) – U SPORTS is proud to announce the eight nominees for the 2018 BLG Awards celebrating the U SPORTS Athletes of the Year for the 2017-18 season.
The 2018 nominees for the Doug Mitchell Trophy presented to the U SPORTS Male Athlete of the year are Alberta Golden Bears football player Ed Ilnicki, Laurentian Voyageurs basketball player Kadre Gray, Concordia Stingers wrestler Francis Carter and UNB Varsity Reds basketball player Javon Masters.
On the women's side, the finalists for the Jim Thompson Trophy presented to the U SPORTS Female Athlete of the Year are Calgary Dinos rugby player / wrestler Temitope Ogunjimi, volleyball players Theanna Vernon of the Ryerson Rams and Marie-Alex Bélanger of the Montréal Carabins and Acadia Axewomen basketball player Paloma Anderson.
The eight national nominees will be honoured on Monday, June 4 at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts in Vancouver, B.C., as part of the 2018 U SPORTS Conference and Annual Meeting. It will mark just the second time the BLG Awards have been held in Vancouver and first since 2011.
The BLG Awards were established in 1993 by U SPORTS and national law firm Borden Ladner Gervais LLP to recognize the top male and female athletes from U SPORTS-affiliated universities. One male and female nominee are chosen to represent each of the four conferences: Canada West (CW), Ontario University Athletics (OUA), Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) and Atlantic University Sport (AUS). All finalists will return home with a commemorative gold ring from Jostens.
The winners will be determined by the Canadian Athletic Foundation, a not-for-profit board chaired by Doug Mitchell, National Co-Chair of BLG.
Click here to view the All-Time BLG Award Nominees and Winners
Below are profiles on our AUS Nominees. Click here for all the BLG nominees from RSEQ, OUA and Canada West.
Year of Eligibility: 5
Academic Program: Sociology
Hometown: Phoenix, Ariz.
As an unheralded transfer from the NCAA, Paloma Anderson joined the Axewomen in the fall of 2014 and left a unmistakable impact on AUS and U SPORTS women's basketball
In her final year of eligibility, the 5-foot-1 guard shattered several Acadia records including most points in a career of 1,446 in only 73 games, as well as most career free throws and assist. The sociology major finished the season second in conference scoring and sixth nationally with 18.9 points per game, while also leading the conference in assists, steals and field goals as Acadia posted an 18-2 record.
For her effort, Anderson was named the AUS and U SPORTS Player of the Year, helping lead her Axewomen to a conference championship title and U SPORTS Final 8 appearance. Averaging 16.0 points in two AUS championship playoff games, the Phoenix, Ariz., native also took home AUS championship tournament most valuable player.
No stranger to the BLG Awards, Anderson is back as a finalist for U SPORTS Female Athlete of the Year for the second time in three seasons, after being nominated in 2015-16 when she was also named AUS Player of the Year. She is also a three-time U SPORTS First Team All-Canadian and three-time AUS All-Star.
"The best part about basketball is not the awards or championships, it's the relationships you build along the way," said Anderson. "I have met so many people that have impacted my life because of basketball. I have learned that it is not all about being the MVP, rather it's about being the best teammate on your best or worst games.
"One of my most memorable experiences of the BLG Awards I attended in 2016 was being surrounded by the best athletes that Canada has to offer - national Players of the Year within their respective sports, including Olympians, is a humbling atmosphere."
"Paloma was our Atlantic University Sport conference BLG nominee two years ago, and her athletic and personal growth since that time has been impressive," said Axewomen head coach Len Harvey. "She has always been an exceptional talent on the basketball court, but she needed to learn how to control and harness her athleticism and expand her fundamental skillset to develop past the level where she currently was. Paloma has revolutionized her game, becoming more efficient offensively, more focused defensively, and sharing the ball with her teammates in ways to allow them to develop and shine as well."
University of New Brunswick
Year of eligibility: 5
Academic Program: Sociology
Hometown: Kitchener, Ont.
Javon Masters is a five-year member of the UNB Varsity Reds men's basketball team, who leaves the U SPORTS ranks as the all-time leading scorer in Canadian men's university basketball history.
Masters re-wrote the U SPORTS and Atlantic University Sport (AUS) record books over his five-year career, scoring 2407 points. He improved the AUS career mark by 338 points and added 125 points to the U SPORTS mark.
During his career, Masters was named an All-Canadian four times - twice on the first team and a another two times on the second team. He was also a five-time AUS First Team All-Star, three-time AUS MVP, along with U SPORTS and AUS Rookie of the Year and all-rookie team honours in 2014.
Along with the national and conference career scoring records, Masters holds the AUS career record for free throws made (772), the AUS record for free throws made in a single season (215), and the UNB record for career assists (439).
He was the U SPORTS and AUS scoring champion in 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2017-18.
In 2018, Masters was named MVP of the AUS championship tournament, and a tournament all-star, helping the Varsity Reds to their first Atlantic conference title since 1967. He was also named the Varsity Reds male athlete of the year for 2017-18, beating out nominees from the men's soccer and volleyball teams.
"I've learned, through basketball, to never give up and that anything is possible once you put your mind to it," said Masters. Coming from behind in games, when losing seemed inevitable, has inspired me off the court in many circumstances. I hope to be able to continue to play basketball, maybe even on a professional level.
"Off the court, I'd like to be able to take my degree and use it to benefit me and others. The BLG Awards mean a great deal to me. The prestige associated with the awards is incredible. As a nominee, they mark a culmination of all my hard work and dedication to my sport and education. To be recognized at a national level is humbling."
"Javon has been a 'man of the moment.' Throughout his career, he's been a person who embraces and seizes the moment like no other, whether it's career accomplishments, which are many, or on game day, where he has had rarely an off day," said UNB head coach Brent Baker. "On a night when he needed 34 points to break the AUS record, he scored 37 points. On a night when he needed 37 points to break the U SPORTS record, he scored 39 points. Both record-breaking accomplishments were in victories for the Varsity Reds. Hitting clutch free throws for UNB to win the AUS title just added to his legacy of clutch moments."