Gustavus men’s basketball player Trevor Wittwer and women’s basketball player Jess Vadnais have both been named finalists for the Josten’s Division III Player of the Year Award. The announcement was made by the Salem, Virginia Rotary Club which presents the prestigious awards each year. Ten finalists are selected for both the men and the women and the winner is announced at the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Final Four in Salem, Virginia on Thursday, March 20. Gustavus is the only institution this year to have both a men’s and women’s player selected to be a finalist.
The Jostens Trophy is a national award created by the Rotary Club of Salem, Va., to honor the most outstanding men’s and women’s Division III basketball players of the year. The award takes into account three vital parts: basketball ability, academic prowess and community service. The trophy models the Rotary motto of “Service above Self” by recognizing those who truly fit the ideal of the well-rounded Division III student-athlete. This year’s class marks the 11th year the award has been presented.
Wittwer, one of the top players in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, is a Redwood Falls, Minn. native. A two-time First Team All-Conference selection, Wittwer ranks 21st on the Gustavus career scoring list with 1,169 points. He has etched his name in many places in the program’s record books as he ranks first in career field goal percentage at 60.3 percent (401-665), fourth in career steals (124), fourth in career blocks (91), and 10th in career free throws made (314). He also ranks in the top ten in career games played with 106. Wittwer, a captain on this year’s team, is the team’s leading scorer (15.0 ppg) and rebounder (6.4 rpg) and helped the Gusties to a second place finish in the MIAC standings with a record of 14-6. A Health Fitness major with a 3.89 grade point average, Wittwer will graduate in June with honors and will attend graduate school to become a chiropractor next fall. He was also a two-time CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District selection and this year he was named to the CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Team. In addition to his outstanding work on the court and in the classroom, Wittwer has been very involved in the Gustavus community. He is a three-year member of the Gustavus Wellness Board which is a group that promotes healthy lifestyles on campus, and he helped organize the basketball team’s effort to travel to Rushford, Minn. and re-build a playground that was destroyed by a flash flood. Wittwer was also an organizing member of the Elias Fund, which is a group that raises money to help build schools in Zimbabwe.
Vadnais, a three-time All-MIAC selection and last year’s MIAC Player of the Year, averaged 18.7 points (league high), 3.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 2.77 steals in 33.6 minutes per game this season. Vadnais was third in the league in steals (61) and free-throw percentage (122-142; 85.9%) while leading the team with 75 steals and ranking second in assists (54) heading into the NCAA Tournament. Her free throw percentage ranks fourth in Division III. Vadnais is the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,761 points, surpassing the mark of 1,466 points set by Bri Monahan last year. Vadnais also the school record for career steals with 218 and three-point field goals with 208. She is the only player in the program’s history to compile 1,000 points, 300 assists, and 200 steals. Vadnais was named to both the WBCA and d3hoops.com All-America teams last year. A Health Fitness major with a 3.25 grade point average, Vadnais was a CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District selection this year. In the community, she serves on the Student Athlete Advisory Board, is involved in Athletes in Action, where student athletes take part in community service projects, and helped organize a basketball clinic for St. Peter area youth.
Wittwer and Vadnais are the second and third players from Gustavus to be named finalists for the Josten’s Player of the Year Award following Bri Monahan who was a finalist last year.