SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A pair of the league's top senior forwards were recognized as The Summit League's December Female and Male Athletes of the Month on Thursday, league officials announced.
Denver's Madison Nelson earned the female accolade after collecting a pair of Player of the Week honors during a month that saw her nearly average a double-double and Oral Roberts' Emmanuel Nzekwesi claimed the male honor after leading the league in scoring (19.3 ppg) and rebounding (11.8 rpg) during the final month of the 2010s.
Nelson recorded three double-doubles during the month and averaged 15.4 ppg and 9.9 rpg in seven contests. She opened December with a 13-point, 15-rebound, 8-block and six-steal stat line in a win over Northern Colorado. Her blocks and steals against the Bears were both career-highs.
In the Pios' Summit League-opening win over North Dakota State on Dec. 29, she scored a career-high 31 points to go with 12 rebounds, five steals and three blocks. She reached double figures in each contest and opened the season reach that plateau in the Pioneers first 15 games.
Nzekwesi began December with one of his three double-doubles, coming off the bench to score 21 points and grab 12 rebounds at Creighton on Dec. 3. The preseason all-league pick had missed the previous three games and did his damage against the Bluejays in only 24 minutes.
In a 97-59 victory over Chicago State that clinched a win for The Summit League in its "Challenge Series" with the WAC, Nzekwesi came off the bench once again and went 9-for-12 from the field to score 22 points and pull down nine rebounds against the Cougars.
In his return to the starting lineup, he wrapped up the month with back-to-back double-doubles. He went for 12 points and 11 rebounds in a home win over Missouri State, which was the league's only victory over a Missouri Valley foe in non-conference play. In the Golden Eagles' final non-conference game, he scored 23 points and grabbed a league single-game high 17 rebounds in a six-point loss at BYU.
For the month, Nzekwesi shot 64 percent from the floor and went 11-for-12 from the foul stripe (91.6 percent). He is the third Golden Eagle to earn the male monthly honor during 2019-20 academic year.
Female Athlete of the Month
Madison Nelson, Denver, Women's Basketball
Senior | Forward | Dover, Minnesota
- Averaged 15.4 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 2.6 bgp and 2.9 spg during seven December contests
- Reached double figures in all seven games, including a career-high and Summit League single-game high this season of 31 vs. North Dakota State
- Posted career-highs of eight blocks and six steals in a double-double performance vs. Northern Colorado
- This is the first monthly honor of Nelson's career
Also nominated: Olivia Lane, North Dakota; Naimah Slaughter, Purdue Fort Wayne; Ciara Duffy, South Dakota; Akealy Moton, North Dakota State; Tagyn Larson, South Dakota State.
Male Athlete of the Month
Emmanuel Nzekwesi, Oral Roberts, Men's Basketball
Senior | Forward | Trophy Club, Texas
- Led the league in scoring and rebounding during December, averaging 19.3 ppg and 11.8 rpg
- Registered three double-doubles, including a 23-point and Summit League single-game high 17-rebound outing at BYU
- Posted three 20-plus point scoring games in four contests
- Third male Golden Eagle to collect an Athlete of the Month honor during 2019-20 (Dante Brigida, September and Tanguy Guerineau, October)
- This is the first monthly honor of Nzekwesi's career
Also nominated: Vinnie Shahid, North Dakota; Marlon Stewart, North Dakota; Douglas Wilson, South Dakota State; Stanley Umude, South Dakota; Jarred Godfrey, Purdue Fort Wayne.
2019-20 Summit League Athletes of the Month
Male: Dante Brigida/Oral Roberts/Soccer
Female: Elyse Huber/North Dakota State/Soccer
Male: Tanguy Guerineau/Oral Roberts/Soccer
Female: Abby Ripperda/South Dakota/Cross Country
Male: Tyler Hagedorn/South Dakota/Men's Basketball
Female: Ciara Duffy/South Dakota/Women's Basketball
Male: Emmanuel Nzekwesi/Oral Roberts/Men's Basketball
Female: Madison Nelson/Denver/Women's Basketball
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