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April 18, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; April 18, 2009 - Penn State senior Jamelle Cornley (Columbus, Ohio) and sophomore Talor Battle (Albany, N.Y.) were named team co-MVPs at the 30th Annual Nittany Lion Hoops Club Banquet Friday evening at the Nittany Lion Inn ballroom.
A gathering of 340 friends, family and fans attended the sold-out event celebrating a record 27-win season and the program's first-ever national tournament title with it's 69-63 victory over Baylor in the National Invitation Tournament Championship.
Cornley, who finished his career at Penn State ranking fourth all-time in points (1,579) and rebounds (755), earned co-MVP honors for the third time on his career. Named the NIT MVP, Cornley led Penn State with 6.3 rebounds per game and ranked second with 14.4 points per game. His 531 points on the year rank as the sixth-best single-season total at Penn State. Battle, a first team All-Big Ten, USBWA and NABC All-District selection led the Big Ten in scoring and posted 16.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.0 apg on the year. He set a single-season assist record with 189 on the year and his 635 points rank as the fifth-best total all-time.
Penn State honored four seniors on the evening including Cornley, Danny Morrissey (Cleveland, Ohio), Stanley Pringle (Virginia Beach, Va.) and Will Leiner (Coplay, Pa.). Morrissey, who finished his career with 221 threes good for third all-time, was named the team's Most Inspirational Player after battling through injuries all season, leading the team in charges taken and playing with the all out effort exemplified by his headlong dive for a loose ball that resulted in a concussion and split lip in the final minutes of the NIT final.
Pringle was honored with the Mr. Defense Award after leading the team with 49 steals and often drawing the opposing team's best perimeter scorer. Pringle, who led the Big Ten in three-point percentage hitting at a 45 percent clip on the year, also earned the Unsung Hero Award after ranking third on the team with 12.8 ppg, second with 2.7 apg, and fourth with 3.2 rpg.
Leiner earned team's Scrappiest Player Award for the second-straight season. The former walk-on who earned a scholarship in his final season finished his career having played in 29 games and earned a reputation as one of the hardest working and best prepared practice players as he captained the scout team.
Sophomore Andrew Jones (Philadelphia, Pa.) was named the team's most improved player after finishing as the team's second leading rebounder (5.7 rpg) and posting 6.2 ppg. Jones was fantastic in the NIT averaging 10.0 ppg and 8.2 rpg while shooting 55 percent from the floor.
Fellow sophomore David Jackson (Farrell, Pa.) earned the Coaches Award recognizing his all-around contributions as he posted 4.5 ppg and 3.2 rpg while playing in all 38 games. He was very strong in Penn State's seven post-season games posting 8.1 ppg and 4.1 rpg and shooting 55 percent from the floor.
Sophomore Adam Highberger (Blairsville, Pa.) earned the Scholastic Award after posting a 3.77 grade-point average in life sciences and earning Dean's List and Academic All-Big Ten honors. Highberger joined Steve Kirkpatrick (Carlisle, Pa.), Leiner, Morrissey and Andrew Ott (Abington, Pa.) in earning Academic All-Big Ten honors.
Big Ten Coach-of-the-Year Ed DeChellis addressed thanking them for their support following one of the most successful seasons in program history.
Penn State posted a 27-11 record in 2008-09 breaking the program record for wins in a season by two victories. The Lions 69-63 victory over Baylor in the NIT Championship delivered the program's first-ever national tournament title and just the second ever post-season tournament title. Penn State finished tied for fourth in the Big Ten with a 10-8 record, it's second most Big Ten wins ever, and won 10 of its last 13 games, including a record tying six in March. Cornley was named the MVP of the NIT and was joined by sophomore Talor Battle on the all-tournament team. Penn State's 21 regular season victories tied the school record (set in 1995-96), the Lions went 7-2 at home in Big Ten play, also its second-best mark to 1995-96, and have now won 12 of their last 14 conference home games, four against Top 25 opponents.
The Nittany Lions earned four victories over RPI Top 25 opponents, with seven wins over Top 50 teams, including their first-ever victory at Michigan State, the NCAA Tournament runner-up. In its run to the NIT title, Penn State defeated George Mason, Rhode Island and Florida (away), Notre Dame and Baylor, giving the Nittany Lions 12 victories this season over teams in the final RPI Top 80. Penn State was tied for seventh among teams also receiving votes in the final USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches' poll and finished 47th in the final RPI rankings.
The Nittany Lions return three starters and eight lettermen for the 2009-10 campaign, including starters Battle, Jackson and Andrew Jones. Penn State returns 53 percent of its scoring and 65 percent of its rebounding and will welcome three incoming freshmen, as well as forward Billy Oliver (Chatham, N.J.), a freshman who redshirted this past season.