NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. – UBC Thunderbirds fifth-year guard Kris Young was named the 2014-15 Canada West women’s basketball Outstanding Player of the Year, the conference announced today.

The North Vancouver, BC native finished the regular season fourth in scoring (18.0 ppg) while leading the T-Birds to a 17-3 record, good for first place in the Pioneer Division and the No. 1 seed in the conference playoffs. 

The 5-foot-10 Arts major paced her squad in minutes played (30.6 mpg) and steals (1.8 spg), and was second in the team in rebounds (6.8 rpg), while shooting 49.1 per cent from the field.  This is the second time that Young has been given the conference’s top individual honour, after having accomplished the same feat in 2012-13. She becomes the first Thunderbird to ever win this award twice.

Teammate Harleen Sidhu (Surrey, B.C.) was named to the Canada West’s Second All-Star team for the second consecutive year after averaging 13.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per outing.

Winnipeg Wesmen guard Stephanie Kleysen was selected as the Defensive Player of the Year.  The fifth-year veteran averaged 2.8 steals per game (third in the conference), while anchoring the suffocating Wesmen defence that forced 23 turnovers per game, second-best in the league.

Hot-shooting Victoria Vikes guard Amira Giannattasio won the Rookie of the Year after scoring 12 points per game and connecting at 42.9% from distance, third-best in Canada West.

The conference also announced Thompson Rivers WolfPack’s Scott Reeves as Coach of the Year.  Reeves steered his squad to a division-best 18-2 record after being ranked ninth in the preseason coaches’ poll.

The Lethbridge Pronghorns’ Kimberley Veldman was voted for the Student-Athlete Community Service Award, while Megan Wickstrom was chosen for the Courage Overcoming Adversity Award.

OUTSTANDING PLAYER OF THE YEAR.  For the second time in three years, UBC Thunderbirds guard Kris Young is the Outstanding Player of Year in Canada West women’s basketball.

The North Vancouver, B.C., native was once again the driving force behind the UBC Thunderbirds, who finished first in the Pioneer Division in the Canada West regular season with a record of 17-3. Her outstanding all-around game was on display week in and week out.

Young was fourth in league scoring with an average of 18 points per game, 16th in rebounds per outing (6.8) and 17th in assists (55).  She was also third in the Canada West in field goals made (133), 11th in blocks (15) and 16th in steals (35). In 20 games this season, Young was UBC’s top scorer 11 times and leading rebounder nine times.

The MVP honour is a fitting tribute to one of the best Canada West players ever. Young also won the award in 2013 and becomes the first women’s basketball athlete since Calgary’s Veronica Vanderschee (1988 and 1990) to capture two top player recognitions in non-consecutive years. 

A graduate of North Vancouver’s Handsworth Secondary, Young finished her regular season career with 1,551 points, tied for tenth all-time in league history. She will finish her university career as the UBC regular season all-time leader in points, steals, field goals and field goal attempts.

“Kris has been integral to the success of our team. She has been a tremendous leader on and off the court and consistently performs in every facet of the game. This year beyond the past four, she has found another level and makes her teammates better while she demands the best effort from herself and her teammates. Kris has had an outstanding university basketball career and is very deserving of being named Canada West Player of the Year. It has been a privilege to coach Kris over the past five seasons,” said UBC head coach Deb Huband.

Young will be the Canada West nominee for the CIS Nan Copp Trophy.
 
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR.  Fifth-year Winnipeg Wesmen guard and team captain Stephanie Kleysen finished among the league leaders in both offensive and defensive categories during the 2014-2015 Canada West regular season.  Her relentless play at both ends of the court played a huge role in helping the Wesmen finish with a 14-6 regular season record and a fourth place finish in the Pioneer Division. Kleysen was eighth in Canada West scoring averaging 16.3 ppg, second in three-point field goal percentage (45.3) in addition to grabbing 6.7 rebounds per game and dishing out 3.2 assists.  She finished third in the conference with 2.8 steals per game.

“This is a well-deserved honour for Stephanie. Her drive and determination defines her play. As a team we are proud of all she has accomplished. Being recognized shows the respect she had in the Canada West Conference,” said Wesmen head coach Tanya McKay.
 
Kleysen moves forward as the Canada West nominee for the CIS Defensive Player of the Year Award.
 
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR & ALL-ROOKIE TEAM.  Rookie guard Giannattasio exploded on to the post-secondary scene right from Victoria’s opening exhibition games in early October to the post-season where the Vikes recently captured a spot in the Canada West quarter-finals. The Hamilton, Ont., native came to Victoria as a former high school teammate of former CIS All-Rookie member Jenna Bugiardini.
 
“Amira has incredible instincts on the floor and is the definition of a pure scorer,” said Dani Sinclair, Vikes head coach. “She came to our team with a lot of experience but is a tireless worker who spends hours in the gym and continues to get better every day.” 
 
This season, Giannattasio has been one of the team’s top scorers in over half of their games and has the second-highest three-point shooting percentage on the team behind fifth-year forward Jessica Renfrew. Giannattasio put up 36 three pointers in 84 attempts (42.9 per cent) and averaged 12 points per game.
 
The Social Sciences major recently put up 31 points against Trinity Western in the Vikes’ final regular season game, while she is most remembered for her buzzer-beating jumper against Lethbridge that was the start of an eight-game win streak into the playoffs.
 
“Amira is a much loved player and person in our program and we are all so proud and excited to acknowledge her accomplishments this season,” added Sinclair. “A great season for Amira, but you get the sense that the best is yet to come.”
 
Giannattasio will now contend for the CIS Kathy Shields Award as the conference nominee.
 
Joining Giannattasio on the All-Rookie Team are Michelle Bos (Thompson Rivers), Jessie Brown (Trinity Western), Jayla Verney (Mount Royal) and Christina McCusker (Regina).
 
COACH OF THE YEAR.  Scott Reeves’ ninth full season as head coach of the women’s basketball program at Thompson Rivers was another remarkable year for the program, as he has taken the WolfPack from its infancy to four consecutive playoff appearances in the Canada West while improving every year.
 
Reeves led Thompson Rivers to a division-best 18-2 record, including a 16-game winning streak (longest in the Canada West this season) and were undefeated at home in 2014-15.  They also achieved two CIS Top 10 honorable mentions and a tenth-place CIS Top 10 ranking for the first time in school history, after the WolfPack was ranked ninth in the conference preseason coaches’ poll.
 
“I would say this recognition comes through hard work and a culmination of the efforts to find the best student-athletes to represent our women’s basketball team,” said Thompson Rivers Athletic Director Ken Olynyk.  “Scott has been persistent and true to form in his quest for excellence in the classroom and on the court, which is evidenced in both the number of Academic All-Canadians on our women’s team along with the All-Star recognition of our women’s student-athletes.”
 
Reeves will be the Canada West nominee for the CIS Peter Ennis Award.
 
STUDENT-ATHLETE COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD.  Fifth-year forward Kim Veldman has been a leader on and off the floor for the Lethbridge Pronghorns for the past three seasons and will go down as one of the best players and student-athletes to ever come through the program. Veldman is this year’s Student-Athlete Community Service Award winner for outstanding achievement in three areas – basketball, academics and community.
 
On the floor, Veldman was the conference’s second leading scorer this season, averaging 18.6 points per game. She will also leave the Pronghorns as the school’s all-time leading rebounder and second leading scorer. Veldman grabbed 805 rebounds and scored 1,391 points over the course of her five seasons in Lethbridge.
 
While excelling on the court, she also shone in the classroom as well, earning her Nursing degree in four years, while being named Academic All-Canadian all four years. She will be well on her way to a fifth Academic All-Canadian award while beginning her Masters in Nursing.
 
Veldman has been heavily involved in community service within the Junior Horns basketball program, Reading Buddies program, and Special Olympics, as well as her church.
 
“As a humble and even-keel player, Kim has had to work hard to develop her leadership skills,” said Pronghorn head coach Erin McAleenan. “Over the last three years of working with her, she has grown immensely not only as a player, but as a person. She has become a confident leader both on and off the floor, and she inspires her teammates on a daily basis.”
 
“Kim has changed the culture of our program and has had a tremendous impact on the players, coaches, and community.”
 
Veldman will represent the Canada West as the conference’s nominee for the CIS Sylvia Sweeney Award.
 
COURAGE OVERCOMING ADVERSITY AWARD.  Fourth-year guard Megan Wickstrom has been named the Canada West nominee for the Tracy MacLeod award for the 2014-15 season.
 
Presented annually at the CIS women’s basketball national championship awards banquet, the Tracy MacLeod award is bestowed upon a student-athlete who displays incredible determination, perseverance and an unwavering spirit to continue playing the game of basketball.
 
Wickstrom, who is from Sherwood Park, Alberta, has missed two full seasons of CIS basketball owning to reconstructive knee surgery on both her right and left knees. She blew out one ACL in her sophomore year, during the pre-season and then two years later, also in pre-season play, she blew out the other ACL. Despite two surgically repair knees, and having to play and practice with two knee braces on, Wickstrom played in all 20 games this past season for the Pandas, averaging 16.5 minutes per night, while also chipping in with 5.2 points per game.
 
“The fact that Megan is even playing this year speaks to her determination, hard work and most importantly her love of the game,” noted U of A head coach Scott Edwards. “She has been beset with injuries throughout her career but would never let that impact her desire to compete. She is our captain, our locker room leader and someone that everyone involved with Pandas Basketball has a profound respect for. We are so happy to see her overcome these odds and compete at a high level in the game she loves.”
 
FIRST, SECOND & THIRD TEAM ALL-STARS.  Young headlines the 2014-15 Canada West All-Stars, alongside other repeat-winners Dalyce Emmerson (Saskatchewan), Kimberley Veldman (Lethbridge), Harleen Sidhu (UBC), and Kleysen.
 
First-time All-Stars Saskia Van Ginhoven (Alberta) and Sarah Wierks (UFV) were named to the First Team, while Jorri Duxbury (Thompson Rivers), Cassandra Goodis (Victoria) and Kelly Fagan (MacEwan) were selected for the Second Team. The Third Team was comprised of Laura Dally (Saskatchewan), Charlotte Kot (Regina), Taiysa Worsfold (Thompson Rivers), Megan Noonan (Winnipeg) and Megan Wood (MacEwan).

Complete list of 2014-15 Canada West Women’s Basketball Awards winners:
Outstanding Player of the Year: Kris Young, UBC
Defensive Player of the Year: Stephanie Kleysen, Winnipeg
Rookie of the Year: Amira Giannattasio, Victoria
Coach of the Year: Scott Reeves, Thompson Rivers
Student-Athlete Community Service Award: Kimberley Veldman, Lethbridge
Courage Overcoming Adversity Award: Megan Wickstrom, Alberta

2014-15 Canada West All-Stars (repeat-winners in bold):
First Team:
Kris Young, UBC
Saskia Van Ginhoven, Alberta
Dalyce Emmerson, Saskatchewan
Sarah Wierks, UFV
Kimberley Veldman, Lethbridge
 
Second Team:
Jorri Duxbury, Thompson Rivers
Harleen Sidhu, UBC
Stephanie Kleysen, Winnipeg
Cassandra Goodis, Victoria
Kelly Fagan, MacEwan
 
Third Team:
Laura Dally, Saskatchewan
Charlotte Kot, Regina
Taiysa Worsfold, Thompson Rivers
Megan Noonan, Winnipeg
Megan Wood, MacEwan

2014-15 Canada West All-Rookie Team:
Amira Giannattasio, Victoria
Michelle Bos, Thompson Rivers
Jessie Brown, Trinity Western
Jayla Verney, Mount Royal
Christina McCusker, Regina
 
About Canada West Universities Athletic Association
Canada West is the premier athletic conference in the country and is home to champion student-athletes that excel on the field, in the classroom and in their communities.  As the winningest conference in the CIS with over 100 national championships in the past decade, Canada West and its 17 member institutions commit to a student-athlete experience where competitive excellence, scholarship and sportsmanship equally contribute into molding our future professional athletes and leaders. Find out more by logging on CanadaWest.org and following @CWUAA on Twitter.

Contact: Pic Ocampo (sportsinfo@canadawest.org)
 

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