MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - It's easy to understand why University of Mobile women's basketball player Deonica McCormick was named the Alabama Sports Writers Association's Small College Athlete of the Year. Her stats speak volumes.
But University of Mobile head coach Billy Evans suggests that's just part of the reason. McCormick's value to the Rams' success this past season - the team won the Southern States Athletic Conference tournament crown and earned a spot in the NAIA national tournament - runs deeper than the stat sheet and record book.
"Sometimes you get real talented players that don't want to put in the extra work," Evans said. "She wanted to put in the extra work and that's what made her and this season special. Because when your best player is willing to put in the extra work, everyone puts in extra work. She led by example and I think it made the team respect her and it made it easier to demand more of others when your best player is demanding more of herself."
The award is just another on a long list of superlatives for the Biloxi, Mississippi, native, a 5-foot-8 senior point guard. She was named first-team NAIA All-America, the league's Player of the Year and the SSAC tournament Most Valuable Player. McCormick was a WBCA All-America pick and one of three finalists for the WBCA NAIA National Player of the Year.
McCormick averaged 21.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.3 steals a game this season. She shot 47 percent from the floor and 66 percent from the free throw line. She ranks eighth all-time in scoring at the University of Mobile and is seventh all-time in assists and ninth in field goals made, as well as becoming the ninth player in school history to score at least 1,000 career points despite playing just two seasons. She transferred to Mobile after two seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Last season she scored at least 10 points in all but three games, had 19 games of 20 or more points and four of 30 points or more, including a career-high 37. McCormick ranked No. 6 in NAIA this season in points scored (679) and 15th in steals (75). She holds school records in field goals made in a game, field goals made in a season, field goal attempts in a season, scoring average in a season and total points in a season.
"The thing that I keep harping on to people about her is, yes, she led us in scoring, but she also led us in assists and led us in steals," Evans said. "She was a good defender and a good teammate and she understood getting the ball to the open player. She would get just as excited when she made a nice assist as when she scored a basket.
"She grew as a player between her junior and senior year. And every (head coach of a NCAA) Division I team that we played had the same comment after the game: 'Where did she come from? How did we not know about her?' . I would say, 'She just developed slowly.' She realized how good a player she could be and she started putting in the extra work. . This award is the icing on the cake. That's how I described it to her."