Dribble and Drives: Academics Accolades Roll In for Wolverines

Dribbles and Drives from Inside the House that Cazzie Built
THURSDAY, APRIL 16 -- Academics Accolades Roll In for Wolverines

The on-court successes of the University of Michigan mens basketball team this season have been well-documented. The Maize and Blue returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 11 seasons, making the schools 21st all-time appearance in the tournament, while eclipsing the 20-win plateau for the 22nd time in school history.

But in the classroom, the Wolverines also produced a banner year of achievement. Four players -- Manny Harris, C.J. Lee, David Merritt and Laval Lucas-Perry -- earned Academic All-Big Ten honors, while six Wolverines -- Harris, Lee, Merritt, Lucas-Perry, Zack Novak and Jevohn Shepherd -- were honored with the U-M Athletic Academic Achievement award. Both numbers represent single-season bests for the mens basketball program. The team was also recently recognized at U-Ms Academic Honors Banquet for having the Most Improved Team GPA during the 2007-08 school year.

"As we try to build our basketball program, we believe that there is a strong correlation between academic and athletic success," said U-M head coach John Beilein. "Ive always felt this, and I know it sounds a little corny, but the work ethic that players have off the court in their academics has a strong correlation to their basketball performance. When 33 percent of your scholarship players are (academic) All-Big Ten, that is a step in the right direction."

In addition to those honors, Lee was also named Michigans recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship award and was chosen by the Michigan Daily as one of its Students of the Year. He was also awarded the Raeders Raiders Spirit Award, established by the Letterwinners 'M' Club to recognize a varsity athlete for character, teamwork, dedication, perseverance and intensity of athletic performance.

"Anytime you are honored it is nice because it lets you know your hard work is appreciated by your peers," said Lee. "My basketball awards are special to me because I received them from Michigan, the school I grew up always wanting to attend. Winning the Raeder Award was special because it reinforces that being a person that puts the team first, is enthusiastic every day, and shows character does not go unrecognized."

Novak, meanwhile, was honored at the U-M mens basketball awards celebration with the 2009 Bodnar Award for Academic Achievement, becoming the first freshman in history to earn the accolade.

"It's an honor to receive the Bodnar Award," said Novak. "The University has given me the tools to succeed in the classroom as well as on the court. There are so many guys on this team deserving of this award and it makes me proud to be the one selected."
Both on the court and off the court, the 2008-09 season was a successful one for the Michigan mens basketball team as the Wolverines set a standard of athletic and academic excellence.

"We are student-athletes so it is important to balance both school and sports," said Lee. "Academics are important because knowledge gives you the opportunity to do whatever you desire professionally. Academics here at Michigan are second to none and we realize that as athletes. Receiving a Michigan degree is something that athletes don't take lightly and strive everyday to achieve."

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