July 19, 2012
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ---- Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky announced the recipients of the 2011-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year Awards on Thursday with UAB's Keith DePew (baseball), Rhiannon Johns (women's cross country) and TaRonda Randall (women's basketball) earning recognition for their respective sports.
The C-USA Scholar Athlete of the Year Awards are determined by the league's Faculty Athletics Representatives. The awards are presented to the top student-athletes in each conference-sponsored sport and based on academic achievement (GPA), athletic achievement and service.
Scholar athletes were selected from C-USA's 12 institutions and 20 sports (combining indoor and outdoor track & field).
Keith DePew, Baseball
DePew was a senior second baseman and key contributor in the Blazers capturing their first Conference USA Tournament Championship in program history, along with advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1991.
The Trussville, Ala., native hit .500 (5-for-10) for the C-USA tournament with five runs scored, four RBI and four walks en route to earning a spot on the all-tournament team.
For the season, DePew hit .304 with 31 runs scored and 17 RBI in 60 games, including 56 starts. He put down 11 sacrifice bunts, second most in the league, and finished 10th in the conference in assists with 148.
Away from the diamond, DePew earned C-USA All-Academic team honors in back-to-back seasons. He maintained a 3.92 grade-point average, graduating this past May as a double major in history and high school education. DePew was twice named to the Capital One Academic All-District IV team and was a five-time UAB Presidential Honors winner.
Additionally, DePew is a four-time C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll and Academic Medal recipient and concluded his senior year with the highest GPA amongst all senior male student-athletes at UAB.
Rhiannon Johns, Women's Cross Country
Johns, who completed her cross country eligibility but still has a yearof track remaining, was selected this spring as a second-team Capital One Academic All-American for the second straight year.
She has also earned C-USA All-Academic honors five times in her career between cross country and track and field.
The mathematics major maintained a 4.0 GPA and is a four-time recipient of the C-USA Commissioner's Academic Medal and four-time member of the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll.
On the cross country course, Johns was a front-runner for UAB as she was the top finisher for the Blazers in all four meets in which she competed. The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada native placed ninth (17:33.70) at the C-USA Championship, earning second-team all-conference honors.
She crossed the line 38th out of a field of 303 runners at the Indiana State Pre-Nationals with a 6K time of 21:43.00 and turned in a season-best 21:32.10 performance for a 27th-place finish at the NCAA South Regionals.
TaRonda Randall, Women's Basketball
Randall graduated in May with a bachelor's degree in political science and minors in history and marketing. She finished her undergraduate studies with a 3.8 GPA and has been accepted to law school at the University of Alabama.
A four-time recipient of the C-USA Commissioner's Academic Medal, Randall served as vice president of UAB's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and this past spring was recognized with the C-USA Spirit of Service Award.
Randall lettered four years for UAB, helping the Blazers to winning campaigns in each of her final three seasons. She was part of UAB's C-USA tournament runner-up finish in 2010, its Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) championship in 2011 and its third-place conference finish in 2012.
Randall ended her career fifth on UAB's all-time blocks list with 73. The 6-foot-2 post player ranked eighth in Conference USA this season with 1.1 blocks per game while also adding 4.0 rebounds per contest and shooting 55.2 percent from the floor. She was a major factor in the Blazers ranking third nationally in scoring defense at just 49.1 points per game.