IRVING, TEXAS (June 11, 2008) Rice cross country athletes Marissa Daniels and Brad Morris along with men’s basketball player Paulius Packevicius have been named recipients of the 2007-08 C-USA Scholar Athlete of the Year Awards for their respective sports.
The honors were announced Tuesday by Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky following approval from the league’s Board of Directors. The awards are based on academic achievement (GPA), athletic achievement and service.
Rice along with SMU, Tulsa and UTEP each had three student-athletes selected. Seven of C-USA’s 12 institutions produced at least one scholar athlete winner.
In addition to the three student-athletes from Rice, also honored were East Carolina’s Hannah Priest (women’s tennis) and Kelley Wernert (volleyball); Houston’s James Cesario (baseball) and Jetta “Twiggy” McIntyre (women’s baseball) and Memphis’ Brad Benjamin (men’s golf). Also, SMU’s Kate Ackerson (women’s golf), Ben Shuleva (men’s soccer) and Jennifer Basel (swimming and diving); Tulsa’s Paul Smith (football), Sara Dyer (softball) and Amau Brugues (men’s tennis) and UTEP’s Jami Tullius (women’s soccer), Mickael Hanany (men’s track and field) and Keisha Walkes (women’s track and field).
Daniels is a pre-medicine major who carries a 3.8 grade point average. She was also named the Conference USA Student-Athlete of the Year for cross country as a junior.
Daniels is a two-time Academic All-American by the Women’s Intercollegiate Cross Country Association and was a 2007 Second-Team Academic All-American.
The Pearland native led Rice to a record-setting performance as the team captured its second conference cross country title in the last three years and earned a spot in the national rankings. The Owls won their first NCAA South Central Regional championship and finished the season by finishing 17th at the NCAA Championships.
Morris helped lead Rice men’s cross country team to an eighth-place finish at the NCAA South Central Regional. He was the Owls’ top finisher, placing 24th overall. Morris placed 18th at the Conference USA Championship as Rice placed third and during the year had a pair of top-three finishes.
Academically, Morris carries a 3.66 grade point average in chemistry. He is a three-time selection to the Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll and was a 2006 Academic Medal recipient at Rice.
Morris, a native of Peachtree City, Ga., is involved both on campus and in his church. He has served as a research assistant, is a Brown College Floor Representative, has been a missionary in food pantries and clothing distribution and served as a His Grace Foundation Hospital volunteer
Packevicius was a repeat selection on the Conference USA Men’s Basketball All-Academic Team this year. He was a three-time selection to the C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll with a 3.58 grade point average in economics and managerial studies.
The native of Kaunas, Lithuania, played in the Owls’ first 18 games of his senior season before suffering a season-ending injury in a late, January practice. At the time of his injury, he was averaging 11.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per game (second in Conference USA).
Packevicius was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VI team.