The event drew over 500 student-athletes, coaches, and staff as Delaware celebrated a successful 2012-13 athletics season. UD Alumni Association Vice President Ken Jones presented the Athlete of the Year Awards while Johnson and Hitchens were on-hand to present awards named in their honor. UD Director of Athletics Multimedia Jimmy Smith served as the master of ceremonies.
Most Valuable Players for each of the 21 UD athletics teams were recognized as were the Sportsmanship Award winners for each program. In addition, 26 student-athletes were recognized as the newest members of Chi Alpha Sigma, the National College Athlete Honor Society. In order to be qualified for the honor, student-athletes must be a junior or senior and have a cumulative grade point average of 3.4 or higher.
The Outstanding Athlete Award winners were selected by a vote of the UD head coaches while the Hitchens and Johnson Awards were selected by a vote of UD athletics administrators.
The Johnson and Hitchens Awards are presented to a senior letterwinner who has exhibited the qualities of hard work, dedication, leadership, fairness, and striving for excellence that were the hallmarks of Johnson’s and Hitchens’ career. Johnson served as UD Director of Athletics for 25 years while Hitchens was a pioneer in women’s athletics and served as UD’s Associate Director of Athletics as part of a 41-year career at Delaware.
Worrilow and Delle Donne were not present to accept their awards as each was in training camp with their respective professional teams. Delle Donne is playing with the Chicago Sky of the WNBA while Worrilow has earned a free agent tryout with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
Delle Donne becomes the first women’s basketball player to win the Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year Award since Tyresa Smith in 2007 while Yezzo becomes the first UD baseball player to earn the top athlete award since Courtney Batts in 1998. In addition, Yezzo becomes the first underclassmen to earn the award as previously the award was open only to seniors.
Delle Donne made a lasting mark at the University of Delaware not only as one of the most outstanding athletes in NCAA women’s basketball history, but also for her work as an exceptional student. Nearly every record and honor imaginable came Delle Donne’s way during her four-year career as she led the Delaware basketball squad to new heights, including this past season when the veteran-laden Blue Hens posted a record of 32-4, won the CAA title, and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.
A three-time CAA Player of the Year and a two-time consensus All-American, Delle Donne was a finalist for nearly every national Player of the Year Award the last two seasons and earned the prestigious Honda Award as the top women’s basketball player in the nation this past April. In addition, she was the No. 2 overall pick in the WNBA Draft by the Chicago Sky last month and will begin her professional career in June.
Delle Donne’s statistics were staggering. She led the nation in scoring in 2011-12 and finished second two other times while finishing her career as the No. 5 leading scorer in NCAA history with 3,039 points. She also set CAA career records for points, field goals, free throws, and blocked shots, and established an incredible 45 UD game, season, and career standards.
In the classroom, the Wilmington, Del. native (Ursuline Academy) was a human services major who became just the fourth person in history to twice be named the Capital One National Academic All-American of the Year for women’s basketball. She also was a two-time CAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year for women’s basketball and is a strong candidate to win her second consecutive CAA Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year this summer.
The University of Delaware baseball squad has played itself into the thick of the Colonial Athletic Association championship race each of the last two seasons, and Yezzo, a junior first baseman, has played a huge role in that resurgence.
A native of Cherry Hill, N.J. (Bishop Eustace HS), Yezzo has steadily improved his game to the point where he now stands as one of the most feared hitters not only in the CAA but in the entire nation.
A health behavior sciences major, Yezzo has led the Blue Hens to an impressive record of 31-19 and a fourth place spot in the CAA standings. Delaware will host James Madison in the CAA regular season finale this weekend and then head to Harrisonburg, Va. for the CAA Tournament next week.
Yezzo’s rise to the top of the NCAA statistics has been an impressive one and his sizzling offensive statistics have made him a strong candidate for the CAA Player of the Year Award as well as the Golden Spikes National Player of the Year Award.
The 2013 CAA Pre-Season Player of the Year, Yezzo has lived up to that lofty billing as he entered this week batting .419 with 88 hits in 210 at bats to go with 25 doubles, 12 home runs, 58 runs batted in, and 20 walks. He has started all 50 games this season and has committed just one error in 476 chances.