Keeping Up with April’s Athlete of the Month Candidates

Throughout each month, members of the United States Sports Academy faculty and staff suggest candidates to be considered for the Athlete of the Month ballot that comes out the first Thursday of the following month for a worldwide online vote.

Viewers are welcome to submit their own candidates for consideration, and, if so inclined, they could take a look at this month’s current list that will be presented to the ballot-creating committee.


Here is the list of candidates, with accompanying bios, up to this point:


1. Scott Darling – Hockey – USA
The Blackhawks backup goalie, inserted while down 3-0 to the Predators in the first period of Game 1 of their first-round playoff series, pulled off the impossible, denying all 42 shots he faced in a shocking 4-3, double-overtime victory.

2. Lelisa Desisa – Marathon – ETH (Ethiopia)
He won the men’s race at the Boston Marathon his winning time was 2 hours 9 minutes and 17 seconds.

3. Novak Djokovic – Tennis – SRB (Serbia)
He beat Tomas Berdych to win his second Monte Carlo title and become the first man to win the opening three Masters events of the season (Indian Wells, Miami, and Monte Carlo). The world number one came through 7-5 4-6 6-3 on the clay to extend his winning run in 2015 to 17 matches. He also defeated Andy Murray 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-0 to win the men’s Miami Open Title in Key Biscayne, Fla., on April 5. The win was Djokovic’s fifth Miami Open Title.

4. Jack Eichel – Ice Hockey – USA
The Boston University freshman was named April 10 as winner of the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the top player in college ice hockey. He became just the second freshman in the 35-year history of the award to receive the honor. Eichel, 18, had 26 goals and 45 assists during the Terriers’ season, carrying them to the NCAA championship game. In a Frozen Four semifinal on April 9, he netted two goals and had an assist. Against Providence in the final April 11, he posted another assist. Eichel is expected to be one of the top selections in this year’s NHL draft.

5. Jim Furyk – Golf – USA
Won his first PGA Tour event in five years, making birdies on both playoff holes to outlast Kevin Kisner at the RBC Heritage on Sunday. Furyk was ahead by a stroke when Kisner birdied the 72nd hole to force the playoff, the fourth in the last six tournaments at Harbour Town Golf Links. On the first extra hole, Kisner rolled in a second straight birdie putt on the 18th. But Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open champion, answered with a birdie to keep the playoff going. After Kisner missed his birdie try on No. 17, Furyk sank a 12-foot putt for his 17th career PGA Tour win.

6. Adrian Gonzalez – Baseball – USA
The 11-year pro has started the 2015 season on fire, drilling five homers and driving in seven runs in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ first series – the former setting a major-league record with starting a season. The capper was the first baseman’s three-homer, four-RBI effort in the series finale against San Diego on April 8. Gonzalez is a four-time all-star, four-time Gold Glove winner, two-time Silver Slugger winner and the reigning NL RBI champion.

7. James Harden – Basketball – USA
The three-time NBA all-star is flourishing in this, his sixth season. Not only is the Houston Rockets guard leading the league in scoring, but this month he’s averaged 34.5 points per game thanks in large part to games of 41 and 51 points, the latter being a career high. In addition, he’s putting up 5.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game in April as well.

8. Tyus Jones – Basketball – USA
The freshman guard earned Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament after sparking Duke’s title-winning effort against Wisconsin with 23 points and five rebounds April 6. His clutch play was paramount to the Devils’ capturing their fifth crown, as Jones scored 10 of Duke’s last 16 points, including the final five. Duke actually trailed 54-52 before Jones buried a jumper with 7:05 remaining. After that, he drilled a pair of 3-pointers and then sealed the deal with two free throws with 35 seconds left.

9. Frank Kaminsky – Basketball – USA
The consensus national player of the year in college basketball, Kaminsky led Wisconsin to a second straight Final Four, where he posted back-to-back double-doubles against Kentucky and Duke. His 20-point, 11-rebound effort in the national semifinal April 4 was enough to get the Badgers past previously unbeaten Kentucky, but Wisconsin fell in the final to Duke April 6 despite his 21 points and 12 rebounds. The multi-dimensional senior big man averaged 22 points and 9.5 rebounds throughout the tournament.

10. Adam Peaty – Swimming – ENG (England)
Adam Peaty won the 100 meter breaststroke and set the world record at the British Swimming Championships at the London Aquatics Center in London. His world record setting time was 57.92 seconds for the win and record. He also won the 200 meter breaststroke. The 20 year old also breast the previous record of 58.46 sets at the 2012 Olympics in London.

11. Jordan Spieth – Golf – USA
The 21-year-old won the 2015 Masters in record fashion, carding an 18-under-par 270 to match the major’s mark for 72 holes, set previously by Tiger Woods in 1997. The victory was Spieth’s second in a month, and his fourth overall on the PGA Tour. On the round’s final day April 12, he reached 19-under – a number never achieved in the event’s history – before bogeying the last hole to win by four strokes. Spieth became the first wire-to-wire champ at the Augusta, Ga., course since 1976.

12. Russell Westbrook – Basketball – USA
The Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star point guard posted 54 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists against the Indiana Pacers April 12. Unfortunately, Westbrook’s performance came in a losing effort, but he continues to put up huge numbers in the absence of the injured Kevin Durant. Westbrook’s 54 point performance surpassed his previous career high of 49 points.


1. Angelique Kerber – Tennis – GER (Germany)
She rallied to beat Madison Keys 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 to win the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, S.C., on April 12.

2. Brittany Lincicome – Golf – USA
She defeated Stacy Lewis April 5 in a playoff and on the third playoff hole she came away winning the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, Calif. She shot 9 under 69 on her final round.

3. Jewell Loyd – Basketball – USA
The Notre Dame basketball star scored a total of 34 points with 10 rebounds and 4 assists during the Final Four. In a national semifinal against South Carolina on 5 April, she scored 22 points and had 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Loyd also was the No. 1 pick for the most recent WNBA Draft on 16 April.

4. Tatyana McFadden – Wheelchair Marathon – USA
Tatyana McFadden won the ladies wheelchair race at the Boston Marathon she successfully defended her title with her winning time being 1 hour 52 minutes 54 seconds. The win is her third Boston Marathon women’s wheelchair title

5. Sania Mirza – Tennis IND (India)
Mirza has become the first woman from India to reach the top of the WTA rankings. Mirza moved to No. 1 in doubles Sunday after she and Martina Hingis won the Family Circle Cup title, defeating Casey Dellacqua and Darija Jurak 6-0, 6-4. No Indian woman had ever been No. 1 in singles or doubles until the 28-year-old Mirza. She and Hingis have won their past three events, capturing titles at Indian Wells and Miami before the Family Circle.

6. Sandi Morris – Track and Field – USA
The senior pole-vaulter for the University of Arkansas, posted a NCAA-record performance at the Jon McDonnel Invitational last Saturday (4/11/15) by clearing 15-1.75 feet to eclipse the previous record. With her performance, she becomes the fourth female collegiate athlete to clear 15 feet outdoors.

7. Jenna Prandini – Track and Field – USA
Jennie Prandini, a redshirt Junior on the University of Oregon’s track and field team, set two school records and posted two world-leading times last Saturday at the Mt. SAC Relays. Prandini highlighted the day by winning the 100 meters in 10.92 seconds, breaking Oregon’s school record while posting the second-fastest time in NCAA history. Prandini also posted a world-leading mark in the 200 meters with a time of 22.42 seconds.

8. Caroline Rotich – Marathon – KEN (Kenya)
Caroline Rotich won the women’s race at the Boston Marathon her winning time being 2 hours 24 minutes and 55 seconds. The win was her first major marathon victory.

9. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova – Tennis – SVK (Slovakia)
She defeated Camila Giorgi 6-4, 6-3 to win the Katowice Open in Katowice, Poland, on April 12.

10. Kim Sei-Young – Golf – KOR (South Korea)
Sei-Young Kim on the first playoff hole sank an eagle form 154 yards out to beat Inbee Park at the Lotte Championship presented by Hersey KO Olina, Oahu, Hawaii. She had rounds of 67, 67, 70 and 73 to finish 11 under 277.

11. Giulia Steingruber – Gymnastics – SUI (Switzerland)
Gold for the 21-year-old from eastern Switzerland at the European Championships in Montpellier, France, on April 17th, 2015, and the first Swiss ever to win the gold medal. She scored 57.873 points; more than 0.7 points ahead of the 16-year-old Russian Maria Charenkowa.

12. Breanna Stewart – Basketball – USA
The two-time AP player of the year dominated the NCAA Division I Women’s Tournament once again, leading the Connecticut Huskies to a third straight national title. A 6-foot-4 junior, she posted 15 rebounds, eight points, four blocks and two steals as UConn topped Notre Dame on April 7 for the school’s record-setting 10th crown. In the national semifinal April 5 against Maryland, Stewart went off for 25 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and two steals, which helped clinch her third consecutive most outstanding player of the Final Four honor. She averaged 18.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.2 blocks throughout the tournament.

13. Serena Williams – Tennis – USA
She defeated Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-0 to women’s Miami Open Title in Key Biscayne, Fla., on April 4. The win was William’s eighth Miami Open Title.

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