The 2014-15 athletic year has all but come to a close, and that can only mean one thing: end-of-year awards. Beginning Monday, June 1, Inside NU will be handing out seven different awards to celebrate the top players, coaches and games of the year in Northwestern sports.
However, it's not just our decision; it's also yours. Today, Monday, May 25, we are releasing the nominees for all seven awards. At the bottom of each page is a poll, and that's where you can make your vote count. Voting will be open for a week, and will close at 11 p.m. on Sunday, May 31. Winners will be announced the following week. Without further ado...
It was quite the year for freshman athletes at Northwestern. When a certain running back quickly became the focal point of Northwestern football's offense back in the fall, it might've seemed like this award had already been won. But throughout the year, freshmen excelled on the field, on the court, and even on the course, and during the spring, Northwestern's four women's sports teams swept the Big Ten Freshman of the Year Awards. Now, it's time to hand out our own award.
Here are the nominees for Inside NU's 2015 Northwestern Freshman Athlete of the Year Award:
Justin Jackson, Football - Jackson exploded onto the scene as a true freshman. Running behind a shaky offensive line, he carried the ball 245 times for 1,187 yards, and added 201 more yards catching the ball out of the backfield. He also found the end zone 11 times, and more than made Wildcat fans forget about Venric Mark. Jackson would've been the Big Ten Freshman of the Year if it weren't for Ohio State's J.T. Barrett.
Hannah Kim, Women's Golf - Kim wasn't just named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2015... she was named Big Ten Player of the Year, Northwestern women's golf's first ever recipient of the award. Oh, and Kim's season isn't done; she's currently leading the Wildcats at the NCAA Championships in Raleigh, N.C., where they enter Monday two shots off the top-eight and match-play qualification.
Selena Lasota, Lacrosse - Lasota was simply dominant from the moment she stepped on a lacrosse field wearing purple. She scored a remarkable 69 goals in 21 games, was Northwestern's all-around best player, and was named to the ILWCA All-American Second Team. She was also the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and was named to the all-conference team. For more on Lasota, we profiled her back in April.
Bryant McIntosh, Men's Basketball - The Big Ten had some pretty good freshman guards this past season -- D'Angelo Russell, James Blackmon Jr., Melo Trimble -- but that didn't stop McIntosh from being named to the conference's All-Freshman Team. In his first year in Evanston, McIntosh ran the show for Chris Collins, and was the engine that made NU's offense go. McIntosh averaged 11.4 points and 4.7 assists per game.
Henry Bushnell: It's tough to vote against Jackson, but I'm going with Lasota. She was, more so than the other three, nationally relevant, and is a special talent.
Zach Pereles: Selena Lasota was absolutely insane this year and is thoroughly deserving of the award-- all of the nominees should have huge futures ahead, but Lasota was the best in her first college season.
David Gernon: While Jackson and McIntosh both had phenomenal years, neither dominated their sport like Lasota did, and that's why I'm going with the standout Canadian lacrosse player. To rank in the top-10 nationally in a vital category like goals per game as a freshman is an incredible achievement and one that wins her this award, in my opinion.
Josh Rosenblat: Lasota is a transcendent talent on the lacrosse field. She could very well go down as one of the best players to ever pick up a stick at Northwestern.
Kevin Dukovic: Lasota, who made us forget about the loss of the old No. 2, Alyssa Leonard, was phenomenal, but so was the guy who made us forget about the absence of Venric Mark. Justin Jackson was virtually the only bright spot for NU football last season. He rushed for nearly 1200 yards and 10 touchdowns as a true freshman and gets my vote for Freshman Athlete of the Year.
Voting has ended. Check back throughout the week, as we'll be announcing winners Tuesday through Friday.