DENVER – NM State junior softball player Kelsey Horton and senior men's basketball player Jemerrio Jones are the 2017-18 Western Athletic Conference Joe Kearney Award winners. Named in honor of former WAC commissioner Joe Kearney, the awards are given annually to the top male and female student-athletes in the WAC.
Horton, the 2018 WAC Player of the Year and Tournament MVP, led the Aggies to both the WAC regular-season and tournament titles this season. She was a National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) first team All-Pacific Region honoree and broke the all-time WAC record for home runs per game in WAC play at 0.67. A two-time WAC Hitter of the Week this season, Horton set the NM State single-season records for home runs (25) and total bases (154). Her 25 homers rank second all-time in WAC history (first in the bat testing era).
Nationally in 2018, Horton ranked second in home runs and homers per game (0.47), third in RBIs per game (1.2) and total bases, and seventh in slugging percentage (.911).
During her career, the Aggies have won three WAC regular-season championships and back-to-back WAC Tournament titles. Horton is a three-time first team All-WAC honoree, two-time WAC Player of the Year, was the 2016 WAC Freshman of the Year and a Top 10 finalist for the NFCA National Freshman of the Year. She was also named to the NFCA All-Pacific Region second team in 2017. Horton ranks eighth in the NCAA in career home runs (54) and slugging percentage (.789).
"Kelsey Horton exemplifies the dedication and talent of an All-American type player," NM State Head Coach Kathy Rodolph said. "Everyone who excels in Division I has talent, but Kelsey worked every drop of her talent from a young age with relentless pursuit to be her best. She has done the same thing as an Aggie. She sets her sights on team and individual goals and pursues them with relentless passion. She has an uncanny ability to be consistent and clutch year-after-year. Kelsey's will and courage to be her best self for her team is what makes her so special. She never makes excuses and has high expectations of herself and those around her."
The 2018 WAC Player of the Year and WAC Tournament MVP, Jones led the Aggies to both the WAC regular-season and WAC Tournament titles. He was named first team All-WAC and to the WAC All-Defensive Team. During the WAC Tournament, he broke the single-game rebounding record with 22 against Seattle U. He also broke the tournament rebounding record with 55 in three games, surpassing the previous mark of 53 set in four games in 2005.
A three-time WAC Player of the Week during the season, Jones was named an Associated Press honorable mention All-American. He was also selected to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District 6 first team and to the US Basketball Writers Association All-District VIII Team. He was the first player this century to record 20 rebounds in three consecutive games. Jones led the nation in defensive rebounds per game (9.5) and total rebounds (450), ranked second in rebounds per game (13.2), third in triple-doubles (1), sixth in double-doubles (21) and 10th in offensive rebounds per game (3.74).
Jones' 450 rebounds was a new WAC single-season record. In addition, his 13.24 rebounding average ranked tied for seventh all-time in WAC history. In his two seasons in of WAC play, he posted a rebounding average of 11.5 in WAC games, good for seventh place all-time. Overall, he posted a career average of 10.8 boards per game, good for 12th all-time in the WAC record books.
"Jemerrio Jones completed a record-setting season for the New Mexico State men's basketball team, both individually and for the program," NM State Head Coach Chris Jans said. "He accomplished these amazing milestones while being 6-5 and 205 pounds. Although Jemerrio's numbers are eye-popping based on the raw statistics, his leadership, playing demeanor and sportsmanship set him apart. Opposing coaches made it a point to compliment Jemerrio both publicly and privately for his competitive desire and will to win."