GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Dee Alford and Nicole McMillen were named the 2019-2020 Tusculum University Athletes of the Year during the athletic department's virtual awards show Friday night. The event, which is held annually at the department's end of the year athletic banquet, was done virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Alford, a senior from Griffin, Georgia, started in all 11 games in the secondary for the Pioneers as he led the South Atlantic Conference with 20 passes defended, which were fourth in the country. He paced the Pioneers with five interceptions and broke up 15 passes including a school single-game record five in his home finale against Mars Hill. He was also one of the top punt returners in the nation averaging 14.2 yards per return. He was named to the All-SAC first team and was a second-team All-Region selection.
McMillen, a distance runner on the Pioneers' cross country and track & field teams, was named the TU Female Athlete of Year for a second consecutive season. The Pickering, Ontario graduate student was honored as SAC Runner of the Year after earning four wins and two runner-up finishes in seven starts. McMillen won the Zaxby's Open, the Louisville Classic Blue Division race and the Bobcat Invitational during the regular season, then won the SAC Championship by more than 25 seconds to become the first Pioneer to win the conference meet since 2003. McMillen then finished second at the Southeast Regional to qualify for nationals for the second straight season.
Former TU women's basketball coach Devan Carter is this year's recipient of the Art Argauer Coach of the Year Award. Carter led the women's basketball team to a 24-7 overall record, a regional ranking as TU won six of its final seven games including three straight to capture the SAC Tournament title and the league's automatic berth to the NCAA postseason.
The Male and Female Freshman of the Year Awards were presented to men's volleyball outside hitter Matteo Miselli (Reggio Emilia, Italy) and women's volleyball outside hitter Emiah Burrowes (Wesley Chapel, N.C.).
Football student-athlete Javon "PJ" Green (Savannah, Ga.) is this year's recipient of the Walter T. Dette, Jr. Memorial Spirit Award. The Dette Award is presented to the graduating senior who has excelled in several areas while attending Tusculum.
Three Tusculum upperclassmen boast perfect 4.00 cumulative grade point averages and are the recipients of the Student-Athlete Academic Achievement Award, which is given to the top male and female student-athletes for academic achievement.
On the men's side, men's soccer standout Nikola Vujicic (Belgrade, Serbia) earns this honor for a first time. Women's tennis player Emilie Hansen (Hvidovre, Denmark) and women's soccer defender Katlyn Jones (Chuckey, Tenn.) were the female recipients of the Student-Athlete Academic Achievement Award.
Scholarly achievement was also recognized with the Male and Female Freshman of the Year Academic Awards as four rookies were honored including: Dexler Benjamin (football), Yen Xuan Ong (women's golf), Eli Riley (baseball) and Mabry Ward (women's beach volleyball).
The Paxton-Combs Fan of the Year Awards are named in honor of former Tusculum staff members and long-time Pioneer fans Mary Helen Paxton and Joyce Combs. The recipients of this year's award are Chuck and Mitzi Williams. The Williams' family have been ardent supports of the Pioneers over the years and rarely miss a home game. Chuck Williams has volunteered thousands of hours serving as the athletic department's staff photographer.
The Tusculum Play of the Year Award was presented to TU men's basketball guard Dillon Smith (Lexington, Tenn.) for his game-winning three-pointer against Young Harris College.
The second annual TU Moment of the Year Award went to the women's basketball team for their SAC Tournament run in March, winning the league title for the first time since 2011.
The Comeback Player of the Year Award was presented to women's basketball forward Kasey Johnson (Greensboro, N.C.).
2019-2020 Tusculum University Athletic Award Recipients
Female Athlete of the Year: Nicole McMillen (Women's Cross Country / Track & Field)
Male Athlete of the Year: Dee Alford (Football)
Art Argauer Coach of the Year: Devan Carter (Women's Basketball)
Walter T. Dette Spirit Award: Javon "PJ" Green (Football)
Male Freshman of the Year: Matteo Miselli (Men's Volleyball)
Female Freshman of the Year: Emiah Burrowes (Women's Volleyball)
Team Most Valuable Players
Cheerleading (Most Spirited): Brooke Arwood
Women's Cross Country: Nicole McMillen
Men's Cross Country: Kyler Hodges
Football: Dee Alford
Men's Soccer: Henrique Devens
Women's Soccer: Kate Guildford
Women's Volleyball: Carly Sosnowski
Women's Basketball: Mia Long
Men's Basketball: Trenton Gibson
Softball: Anna Alloway
Baseball: Brandon Trammell
Women's Golf: Jennifer Keim
Men's Golf: Kyle Engelbert
Men's Tennis: Leon Huck
Women's Tennis: Caitlin McCullough
Men's Lacrosse: Liam Macdonald
Women's Lacrosse: Juliette Cusano
Men's Track & Field: Widchard Guervil
Women's Track & Field: Hachlaine Petit
Women's Beach Volleyball: Melissa Mazur
Men's Volleyball: Matteo Miselli
Women's Bowling: Raycine Mortensen
Freshman of the Year Academic Award (Male): Dexler Benjamin (Football)
Freshman of the Year Academic Award (Male): Eli Riley (Baseball)
Freshman of the Year Academic Award (Female): Yen Xuan Ong (Women's Golf)
Freshman of the Year Academic Award (Female): Mabry Ward (Women's Beach Volleyball)
Student-Athlete Academic Achievement Award (Male): Nikola Vujicic (Men's Soccer)
Student-Athlete Academic Achievement Award (Female): Katlyn Jones (Women's Soccer)
Student-Athlete Academic Achievement Award (Female): Emilie Hansen (Women's Tennis)
Paxton-Combs Fans of the Year Award: Chuck & Mitzi Williams
Play of the Year: Dillon Smith game-winning 3-pointer vs Young Harris
Moment of the Year: Women's Basketball winning the SAC Tournament title
Comeback Player of the Year: Kasey Johnson