EWU Names Scholar-Athletes for December

Jan. 16, 2009

Basketball players Benny Valentine and Kyla Evans have been selected by the Eastern Washington University athletics department as its Scholar-Athletes for the month of December.

Valentine is not only the Big Sky Conference scoring leader, but the 5-foot-7 point guard is being nominated for Academic All-America honors. The business major from Omaha, Neb., has a 3.40 grade point average in just over one year at EWU after transferring from Texas Tech and redshirting the 2007-08 season.

He leads the league with a 17.5 points per game average, followed by Loren Leath from Sacramento State (16.0) and Anthony Johnson from Montana (15.5). Valentine, a candidate for Big Sky Newcomer of the Year accolades, was selected as the Big Sky Player of the Week after leading the Eagles to three-straight NCAA Division I victories in a six-day stretch in November.

For the season, he has made 41 percent of his shots from the field, 37 percent of his three-pointers (40-of-108) and 74 percent of his free throws to go along with averages of 3.0 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. He has led Eastern in scoring in 12 games thus far with a pair of 30-point performances and six outings with at least 20 and 16-of-18 games in double figures.

In his last four games, Valentine has averaged 24.5 points on 35-of-63 shooting from the field (54.0 percent), 12-of-24 from the three-point stripe (50.0) and 18-of-24 from the line (75.0). He is also averaging 2.8 assists and 2.0 steals in that stretch.

In his most recent outing, Valentine made 11-of-16 shots to finish with 31 points in a 75-68 loss at Northern Colorado on Jan. 15. He scored 33 three games earlier against Sacramento State on Jan. 4 when he finished with his best scoring game of the season, and his first of more than 16 in nine games since getting 29 and 21 in back-to-back games in late November against Minnesota and UC Irvine, respectively.


Evans is havinga stellar year for the Eagles, shooting 38 percent on three-point attempts (42-of-111) and 44 percent from the floor (68-of-154). She entered this week's play 58th among all NCAA Division I players in three-point baskets per game (2.4), first in the Big Sky, and 74th in three-point shooting percentage.

She also has propelled herself high up the school-record listing for three-point baskets in a career, especially impressive considering she is just a sophomore. Evans has made 94, the fifth-highest total in EWU history.

For the month of December, Evans was Eastern's leading scorer, averaging 12.3 points per game. She also tallied 5.1 rebounds per game in addition to a total of 15 assists, seven steals and three blocks. The Brewster, Wash., native had double-digit point totals in six of the month's eight games.  

She had perhaps her best showing of the season on Nov. 21 in an 80-70 win over San Francisco when she scored 20 points on stellar 8-of-10 shooting. The point total is tied for the second best by an Eagle so far this year. She was also impressive against Southeastern-Conference member Georgia on Nov. 19, making 6-of-8, including 4-of-5 from three-point range.

The communications major is carrying a 3.96 GPA in an honors program.

Read a Q and A with Evans here.

Women's Scholar-Athletes

September - Ashley Hamilton, volleyball
October - Lauryn Koelzer, soccer
November - Mandy Daniels, volleyball
December - Kyla Evans, basketball

Men's Scholar-Athletes
September - Paul Limpf, cross country
October - Alex Smyth, cross country
November - Chris Thomas, football
December - Benny Valentine, basketball

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