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Nashville, Tn – Belmont University men’s basketball graduate J.J. Mann (Smyrna, Ga.) accepted the 2014 Ohio Valley Conference Steve Hamilton Sportsmanship Award Friday at the league’s annual Honors Brunch.
The award is given annually to an Ohio Valley Conference male or female student-athlete of junior or senior standing who best exemplifies the characteristics of the late Morehead State student-athlete, coach and administrator Steve Hamilton. Criteria include significant athletics performance along with good sportsmanship and citizenship. The award is voted on by the Conference’s athletics directors and sports information directors.
Belmont’s J.J. Mann accepts Steve Hamilton Sportsmanship Award (OVC Sports Information)
“J.J. Mann has accomplished as much on and off the floor as any Belmont player I have coached,” Belmont University men’s basketball head coach Rick Byrd said. “He was a great leader, teammate, and competitor. All of us involved with the Belmont basketball program congratulate J.J. for the prestigious Steve Hamilton Award and thank the OVC for recognizing him in this way.”
Hamilton competed on OVC Championship teams in each baseball, basketball and track while at Morehead State. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1958 and a master’s degree also from Morehead State in 1963. He went on to have an 11-year major-league pitching career and coached in the minor leagues before returning to MSU in 1976 to become head baseball coach.
He held that position for 13 years and compiled a 305-275 record while leading the Eagles to five divisional championships and two OVC titles. He was named Morehead State’s Director of Athletics in July 1988 and served in that position until his death in 1997. As the A.D., Hamilton led the program to success on the field, in facilities and in the classroom.
During his tenure, a weight room was built, an academic counselor for athletes was added, graduation rates of student-athletes improved and the University won the OVC Academic Achievement Banner four times. Hamilton is the only individual to play in the NCAA Basketball Championship, a Major League Baseball World Series (New York Yankees) and a National Basketball Association Championship Series (Minnesota Lakers).
Mann recently completed a decorated collegiate career at Belmont – on and off the court. The 6-6 forward set a number of Belmont NCAA era program records, including games played (139), victories (109), steals (208), single-season scoring (660 points, 2014), home court win streak (23 games), and overall home court winning percentage (50-2, .962).
Mann ranked among the OVC leaders in nine statistical categories in 2014, including scoring, three-point field goal percentage and minutes played en route to earning Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention, Mid-Major All-America, Tennessee Sports Writers Association Player of the Year, NABC All-District and OVC Player of the Year honors.
The Smyrna, Ga. native was part of four conference regular season championships, three conference tournament championships, three NCAA Tournament appearances and one Postseason NIT appearance. He finished his Bruin career fifth on the program’s NCAA era scoring list with 1,509 points.
Belmont also earned national Top 25 poll votes in each of Mann’s four seasons.
In the classroom, Mann earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and spanish with a grade-point average of 3.51. Among numerous scholastic honors, Mann was named Capital One First Team Academic All-America, two-time Capital One Academic All-District, two-time Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association (DI-AAA ADA) Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete, four-time Academic All-Conference, and 2014 Belmont University Presidential Scholar of the Year.
In the community, Mann’s contributions were far-reaching. Among them, Mann serves as a regular volunteer for the Best Buddies Program, a tutor and activities leader at area schools, a server at the Nashville Rescue Mission, and member of Belmont’s Sports Evangelism mission trips to Malta, Italy and Haiti.
On campus, Mann held a number of leadership positions, including men’s basketball representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), executive vice president of Belmont Ambassadors, team leader of Belmont’s division of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), and member of Enactus – a non-profit organization committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need.
Mann’s service led to several prestigious honors, including the John Wooden Citizenship Cup, the Allstate NABC Good Works Team honored at the 2013 Final Four, the Senior CLASS Award program, Belmont University Betty Wiseman Inspiration Award, and ‘Peach of an Athlete’ by the Atlanta Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Other honorees from the event included:
Jimmy Garrapolo (Eastern Illinois) – Male Athlete of the Year
Heather Butler (UT Martin) – Female Athlete of the Year
Dr. Bob Bell (Tennessee Tech) – OVC Hall of Fame Inductee
Margaret Simmons (Murray State) – OVC Hall of Fame Inductee