Orlando, Apr 30, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE via COMTEX) -- Orlando, Fla., April 30, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- For the third time in AAU James E. Sullivan Award history, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) announced co-winners for the 90th AAU James E. Sullivan Award presented by Eastbay, Sabrina Ionescu and Spencer Lee. The ceremony took place virtually on Facebook Live on the evening of Wednesday, April 29.
In an effort to maintain appropriate social distancing standard, the AAU moved the ceremony from in-person (held annually at the historic New York Athletic Club) to a virtual event. However, emotions still ran high as spectators tuned in to a special edition of Sports Stories with Denny Lennon (facebook.com/sportsstoriespodcast) for the presentation of the award.
Ionescu became the seventh basketball player to take home this award, while Lee became the fifth wrestler to be named the top athlete. The pair are the third duo to win, following the footsteps of the 86th recipients, former Navy quarterback, Keenan Reynolds and former University of Connecticut forward, Breanna Stewart in 2015 and the basketball twins Kelly and Coco Miller in 1999. Other 90th AAU James E. Sullivan Award finalists included, Evita Griskenas (rhythmic gymnastics), Grant Holloway (track and field), Markus Howard (men's basketball), Trevor Lawrence (football), Dana Rettke (women's volleyball), Kyla Ross (gymnastics), Megan Taylor (women's lacrosse) and Abbey Weitzeil (women's swimming).
"This is truly an honor. I am blessed to be in this position and blessed to be among such great athletes and people, while I try and follow in the footsteps of the past AAU James E. Sullivan Award winners," said Ionescu. "I just want to say thank you to the University of Oregon and anyone that has been a part of my journey in the past, the now and the future."
Sabrina Ionescu is the first player in NCAA history to surpass 2,000 career points, 1,000 career rebounds and 1,000 career assists. She holds the NCAA all-time triple-double record with 26. Ionescu is the only the second player in NCAA history to reach 2,000 career points and 1,000 career assists. She is the Pac-12 all-time leader in assists. Ionescu showed incredible strength on Feb. 24, 2020, speaking in front of 20,000 people and a national television audience at the memorial service for Kobe and Gianna Bryant. She is a two-time Wooden Award and Wade Trophy recipient as the national player of the year. Her other accolades this year are the Nancy Lieberman Award, Honda Sport Award, Pac-12 Player of the Year, WBCA First Team All-American, ESPNW First Team All-American, USBWA First Team All-American, Dawn Staley Award finalist and winner of the 2020 Senior C.L.A.S.S. Award for women's basketball. On April 17, 2020, Ionescu was selected by the New York Liberty with the first overall pick of WNBA Draft 2020 presented by State Farm.
"I just want to thank my family, teammates and coaches," said Lee. "Just being among these athletes is such an honor. Only five other wrestlers have won this award and to be a part of that group is just incredible. We as amateur athletes, we do this for the sport, the fight and the passion instilled in us. I am truly humbled."
Two-time NCAA Wrestling Champion and Hodge Trophy recipient, Spencer Lee claimed the 2019 U.S. Senior National Championship, qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Trials. He clenched the No. 1 seed going in to the 2019-20 NCAA Championships and earned All-American honors for 2018, 2019 and 2020. For 2019, Lee outscored his opponents 55-7 in five matches at NCAA Championships and posted a 23-3 overall record, including a perfect 7-0 mark in Big Ten duals. Lee recorded a team-high seven technical falls and eight pins, ranking second on the team. He became an Academic All-Big Ten selection and named the Mike Howard Most Valuable Wrestler at annual team banquet. Lee was also nominated to the NWCA Academic All-American Team and is a two-time letter winner.
"We want to thank everyone for their participation and dedication to the presentation of this award. These are unpresented times, but we as an organization wanted to celebrate the hard work these athletes put out there on the floor throughout this 2019-20 season," said AAU President and CEO Dr. Roger J. Goudy. "I could not be more proud of both our recipients this year. They are quintessence of what this award represents - character, leadership and citizenship."
The AAU Sullivan Award has been presented annually since 1930 to the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. Representatives from the AAU created the Sullivan Award with the intent to recognize amateur contributions and achievements from non-professional athletes across the country, including famed Olympians Michelle Kwan (2001), Michael Phelps (2003), Paul Hamm (2004) and Shawn Johnson (2008); University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning (1997), Penn State guard John Urschel (2013); 200m backstroke world record holder Missy Franklin (2012) and University of Wisconsin setter Lauren Carlini (2016).
ABOUT THE AAU:
The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) is one of the largest- non-profit volunteer sports organizations in the country. As a multi-sport organization, the AAU is dedicated exclusively to the promotion and development of amateur sports programs. Founded in 1888 to establish standards and uniformity in sports, the AAU philosophy of "Sports For All, Forever" is now shared by nearly 700,000 members and 150,000 volunteers across 41 sports programs and 55 U.S. districts.
For more information, visit www.aausports.org | Instagram: @AAUSports | Twitter: @TheRealAAU | YouTube: youtube.com/TheRealAAUvideo | Facebook: facebook.com/realAAU
Since 1980, Eastbay has been dedicated to providing high school athletes with the footwear, apparel, and equipment they need to take their game to the next level. As part of Foot Locker, Inc. /zigman2/quotes/204092533/composite FL -0.45% , Eastbay is focused on serving athletes who know what it takes to win, both on and off the field, through its direct mail catalog and eastbay.com. Through product selection, insider knowledge, and a range of athletes and experts, Eastbay delivers the tools athletes need to win their style of play and post-game looks.
Additional information may be found at eastbay.com | Instagram: @officialeastbay | Twitter: @eastbay | YouTube: youtube.com/eastbay | Blog: blog.eastbay.com | Facebook: facebook.com/eastbay | App: iOS and Android
Keri Burns Amateur Athletic Union 4072805110 firstname.lastname@example.org
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