Joe Bryant Jr and Kierra Wheeler named Norfolk State Athletes of the Year

Title image via Markus Taft Photography

Courtesy of Brian Howard, Asst. AD/Communications, Norfolk State Athletics

NORFOLK, Va. | Norfolk State University men’s basketball player Joe Bryant Jr. and women’s basketball student-athlete Kierra Wheeler were named the athletic Male and Female Athletes of the Year, respectively, at the Spartans’ end-of-year awards ceremony on Monday night at Joseph G. Echols Memorial Gymnasium.

Bryant is arguably one of the most decorated student-athletes in the program’s history as he etched himself into the NSU record books this season, earning Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Player of the Year and BOXTOROW HBCU National Player of the Year honors for the second consecutive campaign. The Norfolk, Va. native averaged 17.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game as a fifth-year senior, shooting 84 percent from the free-throw line and 37 percent from behind the arc. He received a variety of postseason honors including an NABC First-Team All-District Selection and East MVP at the Reese’s All-Star Game.  

Wheeler was a key component in helping the Spartans win their first MEAC Championship title in 20-plus years, garnering MEAC All-Tournament honors and HBCU National Player of the Week by BOXTORROW. Throughout the MEAC Women’s Basketball Tournament, the Minneapolis, Minn. native averaged 16.3 points per game, 8.7 rebounds per game, and shot 57 percent from the field in three victories and was named the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. In addition, she was a four-time MEAC Player of the Week and All-Conference honoree. 

Also at the banquet, softball student-athlete Kenna Higa and baseball player Abi Kadangot were recognized as NSU Male and Female Scholar Athletes of the Year. Higa is a General Business and Management major with a 3.93 GPA, while Kadangot is a Business Intelligence & Data Analytics major with a 3.98 GPA. They have the highest GPAs in the athletic department.  

Here were other award winners recognized at the ceremony: 

Marvin Prince Track Awards 
Women: Leslie Young 
Men: Kai Cole

Spartan Award 
Frances W. Steward 
Chester L. Steward Jr. 
Earl Lee 

Athletic Directors of Excellence Award 
Dr. Grady James 

Men’s Cross Country 
Outstanding Newcomer: Gidion Sigei 
Most Improved: Brian Rotich 
MVP: Gidion Sigei 

Women’s Cross Country 
Outstanding Newcomer: Mercyline Kimaiyo 
Most Improved: Tynniesia Wilson 
MVP: Mercyline Kimaiyo 

Men’s Track & Field 
Outstanding Newcomer: Brian Rotich 
Most Improved: Joshua Sutton 
MVP: Regan Kimtai & Gidion Sigei 

Women’s Track & Field 
Outstanding Newcomer: Mercyline Kimaiyo 
Most Improved: Tynniesia Wilson 
MVP: Mercyline Kimaiyo 

Leadership Award: Marquis Hall 
Coaches Award: Baron Franks 
Special Teams MVP: Toby Willis 

Rookie of the Year: Sydney McCree 
Most Improved: Adlene Jideofor 
MVP: Shonte Seale 

Men’s Basketball 
Rookie of the Year: George Beale Jr. 
Most Improved: Kris Bankston 
MVP: Joe Bryant Jr. 

Women’s Basketball 
Books and Basketball Award: Deja Francis 
Big Game Award: Kierra Wheeler 
Team Player/Coaches Award: Niya Fields 

Rookie of the Year: LaShauna Burrus 
Most Improved: Jalaya Allen 
MVP: Megan Wheat 

Men’s Tennis 
Rookie of the Year: Adam Kaczmarek 
Most Improved: Hugo Massoni Lena 
MVP: Federico Rebecchini  
Coaches Award: Roosevelt Brown III 

Women’s Tennis 
Rookie of the Year: Amal Gati 
Most Improved: Laura Ruiz 
MVP: Aleksandra Evdokimova 
Coaches Award: Zada McMorris 

Coaches Award: Dionte Brown 
(Other awards TBA at a later date)

Coaches Award: Lauren Sheehan 
Defensive MVP: Alexis Robinson 
Offensive MVP: Gabby Vaughan 
Overall MVP: Kenna Higa 
Resurgence Award: Cam Anderson

All-Academic Team (individual with highest GPA on each team) 
Baseball: Abi Kadangot 
Men’s Basketball: Yoro Sidibe 
Women’s Basketball: Deja Francis 
Bowling: LaShauna Burrus 
Football: Anthony Blume 
Softball: Kenna Higa 
Men’s Tennis: Boris Lunin 
Women’s Tennis: Aleksandra Evdokimova 
Women’s Track: Corryn Connor 
Women’s XC: Kara Grant 
Men’s Track: Dazon Harrison 
Men’s XC: Evans Cheruiyot 
Volleyball: Myleah Carter 

Male Scholar Team Award 
Men’s Tennis (3.6 GPA) 

Women’s Scholar Team Award 
Women’s Tennis (3.77 GPA) 

Female Scholar Athlete of the Year 
Kenna Higa, Softball 

Male Scholar Athlete of the Year 
Abi Kadangot, Baseball 

Female Athlete of the Year 
Kierra Wheeler, Women’s Basketball 

Men’s Athlete of the Year 
Joe Bryant Jr., Men’s Basketball 

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