UT Martin’s Jasmine Newsome was named the 2011-12 Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year in voting by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. Eastern Illinois’ Ta’Kenya Nixon was selected as the OVC Defensive Player of the Year while SIUE’s Katie Hempen earned Freshman of the Year honors. The Cougars’ Amanda Levens was tabbed the Coach of the Year.

A native of Millington, Tenn., Newsome becomes the second Skyhawk to be named OVC Player of the Year after Zabrina Harris earned the honor in 1998-99. The sophomore guard leads the league with 5.9 assists per game. She dished out a season-best 11 assists versus Austin Peay on Feb. 23. Newsome, who was also selected to the All-OVC first team, ranks second in league and 18th in the nation with 19.7 points per outing. She has reached double-digits in points in all but two games this season with a career-high of 39 coming against Southern Miss. She is among the league leaders in field-goal percentage (4th, 44.5%), free-throw percentage (6th, 82.4%), steals (3rd, 2.0 spg), three-point field goals made (9th, 1.9 per game) and three-point field goal percentage (8th, 35.0%). Earlier this season, Newsome had a streak of 36 straight free throws made that spanned over five games. The mark was eight shy of the OVC record of 44 held by former Murray State player Paige Guffey. Newsome received OVC Player of the Week honors four times this season.

Hempen, a product of Highland, Ill., was named OVC Freshman of the Year after SIUE’s first season of playing a full OVC schedule. The freshman guard averaged 9.9 points while recording 10.4 points per league contest. She ranks second in the conference with a 86.9 free-throw percentage. Hempen has posted 14 double-digit scoring outings, hitting a career- best 19 twice. The All-Newcomer selection has seen action in all 27 games for the Cougars so far this year. Hempen has been named OVC Freshman of the Week four times this season. 

Nixon becomes the league’s first ever two-time Defensive Player of the Year honoree after winning the award in 2009-10. She was also selected as the OVC Freshman of the Year that season, becoming the first player to win both awards in the same year. The Michigan City, Ind., native leads the league averaging almost three steals per outing. She has recorded a season-high six steals twice this year. Nixon, who earned her third straight All-OVC first team selection, also ranks first in the league with a 52.5 field-goal percentage. She is recording 15.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game this year and is fourth in the OVC with a 83.4 free-throw percentage. Nixon earned Player of the Week honors on Jan. 17.

Levens was tabbed the OVC Coach of the Year after leading her team to a 12-4 league mark in its first season with a full OVC slate. SIUE, which was predicted to finish eighth in the conference race, went 7-1 on the road in league play this year. The Cougars, who will finish reclassifying from Division II and be eligible for postseason play next year, would have been the third seed in the OVC Tournament this season. SIUE has also compiled an 18-9 overall mark which is the most wins in the Division I era and the most since the 2006-07 season.

ALL-OVC

Joining Newsome and Nixon as repeat first-team selections are UT Martin sophomore guard Heather Butler and Tennessee Tech senior guard Tacarra Hayes. Austin Peay senior guard Whitney Hanley moves up to the first team after earning second team honors last year.

Butler, a Medina,Tenn., native, leads the league and ranks fifth in the nation with 23.7 points per game. She also ranks third in the NCAA with a 43.8 three-point field goal percentage while making 3.3 treys per game to rank fourth among Division I players.

A product of Lebanon, Ky., Hayes ranks among league leaders with 16.6 points per game and a 41.4 field goal-percentage. She is currently the league’s career active points leader with 1,705 points.

Hanley, a native of Mt. Washington, Ky., is third in the OVC with 18.3 points per outing to go with 5.2 rebounds per game this season. She has made 44.0 percent of her shots from the floor to rank fifth in the league. Hanley has recorded 20 or more points 16 times this season.

The 2011-12 All-OVC second team features five first-time honorees. Making her second straight appearance on the second team is Eastern Illinois junior forward Marian King (Chicago, Ill.). Also making the squad are Morehead State senior guard Courtney Lumpkin (Cincinnati, Ohio), SIUE junior forward Raven Berry (Collinsville, Ill.), sophomore guard Erica Burgess (Memphis, Tenn.), Tennessee State junior guard Jasmin Shuler (Clarksville, Tenn.) and Tennessee Tech junior guard Jala Harris (Madison, Ala.)

King ranks among league leaders in points (12.8 ppg), rebounds (7.2 rpg) and field goal percentage (45.6%) while Lumpkin has recorded 16.1 points each time out to rank sixth in the OVC. Berry is averaging a double-double so far this season with 11.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. Shuler is recording 15.3 points each time out including 2.5 treys per game while Harris is second on the team in scoring with 14.7 points per contest.

Joining Hempen on the All-Newcomer team are Eastern Kentucky junior center Jade Barber (Louisville, Ky.), Jacksonville State freshman forward Briana Morrow (Nashville, Tenn.), Tennessee Tech junior guard Jala Harris (Madison, Ala.) and  Murray State sophomore guard Erica Burgess (Memphis, Tenn.).

Barber is second on the team with 11.0 points per game to go with 7.4 rebounds each time out so far this season while Morrow paced the Gamecocks with 11.4 points per outing and was second on the squad averaging 7.5 boards.


2011-12 All-Ohio Valley Conference Women’s Basketball Teams
(voted on by the league’s head basketball coaches and sports information directors)

FIRST TEAM
Ta’Kenya Nixon, Eastern Illinois*
Jasmine Newsome, UT Martin*
Heather Butler, UT Martin*
Whitney Hanley, Austin Peay%.
Tacarra Hayes, Tennessee Tech*

SECOND TEAM
Courtney Lumpkin, Morehead State
Raven Berry, SIUE
Mariah King, Eastern Illinois%.
Erica Burgess, Murray State
Jasmin Shuler, Tennessee State
Jala Harris, Tennessee Tech 

Six appear on the second team due to a tie.

ALL-NEWCOMER
Jade Barber, Eastern Kentucky
Briana Morrow, Jacksonville State
Jala Harris, Tennessee Tech
Erica Burgess, Murray State
Katie Hempen, SIUE

OVC PLAYER OF THE YEAR:  Jasmine Newsome, UT Martin
OVC FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Katie Hempen, SIUE
OVC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Ta’Kenya Nixon, Eastern Illinois
OVC COACH OF THE YEAR: Amanda Levens, SIUE

* – 2010-11 First Team All-OVC
% – 2010-11 Second Team All-OVC