April 1, 2011

Beitzel lands on Senior CLASS All-America First Team

Devon Beitzel bio | 2011 AP All-America team | Read Devon's inspiring story

HOUSTON -- Northern Colorado senior Devon Beitzel didn't win the ultimate prize Friday, but he was honored as one of five players on this year's Lowe's Senior CLASS Award All-America First Team. 

He joined Ohio State's David Lighty, Purdue's E'Twaun Moore and Kansas' Tyrel Reed on the First Team, as well as BYU's Jimmer Fredette, who was selected as the 2011 Lowe's Senior Class Award winner.

All five, along with the five members of the Second Team, were honored and recognized during open practices Friday at the Final Four at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

Beitzel was one 30 national semifinalists for the prestigious award in November and one of just 10 finalists in January.

The Senior CLASS Award and subsequent honor teams are chosen by a nationwide vote of NCAA Division I head coaches, national media and fans and is honors annually the most outstanding senior student-athletes in NCAA Division I men’s basketball.

To be eligible, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

Beitzel was earlier this month selected the 2011 Big Sky Conference MVP after leading the Bears to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in just their fourth year of NCAA Division I postseason eligibility. He scored a school Division I-record 687 points in 2010-11 and made 90 percent of his free throws, the seventh-best mark in the nation.

During his time in Greeley his leadership has guided the Bears from a program that finished dead last in the RPI in 2006 (his redshirt season) to a school-record 25 victories last season and to their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance this season, a second-round loss to second-seed San Diego State.

Simply stated, though, Beitzel's accomplishments on the court are exemplary, but the hurdles he's cleared en route to today's on-court presentation stand out even more.

Both of his natural parents battled drug addiction and related problems while he was a youth, and, while Beitzel was in middle and high school, both spent some time in halfway houses or prison. Beitzel finished his high school career in his hometown of Lafayette, Colo., after he was taken in by a local family. He later graduated from Centaurus High with honors and as one of the best scorers in Colorado high school basketball history.

"The young men and women who (were) candidates for the basketball award are shining examples of student-athletes who exercise time management every day, juggling class work and community service with practice and games," said Tom Lamb, Lowe's senior vice president of marketing. "The ability to balance things that are important to them will be a skill they will use throughout their lives."

Sportscaster Dick Enberg, honorary chair of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, first conceived the idea of an award for seniors in 2001 in response to the growing trend of men's basketball players leaving school early for the NBA. The award program has expanded from men's and women's basketball to include 10 NCAA Division I sports.