Ta-Wayne Steele named national Player of the Week; leads Lions to two victories
USCAA HONORS FRESHMAN FOR TWO DOUBLE-DOUBLES
55 POINTS AND 20 REBOUNDS
Penn State New Kensington freshman Ta-Wayne Steele was named the United State Collegiate Athletic Association’s men basketball Division II Player of the Week for the period Jan. 17-23.
Steele, a graduate of Oliver High School, scored 58 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in wins over conference opponents Penn State Fayette and Penn State Brandywine. The 6’1 guard pulled off back-to-back double-doubles (27 pts/10 rebs and 28 pts/10 rebs) to help solidify the New Kensington Lions hold on second-place in the Penn State University Athletic Conference-West Division.
Ta-Wayne is one of the purest athletes I have seen at this level and his potential is unlimited," said Doug Schneider, first-year head coach. "He is starting to understand the effort and focus needed to be successful in the college game, and his adjustments have allowed him to flourish on the court."
The Pittsburgh native is solid under the boards, both offensively and defensively. On the year, Steele is leads the team in rebounding with an 8.1 per game and is second in scoring with a 14 points per game. Nationally, in the USCAA, he is ranked in the top 15 in rebounding.
"I am honored to have the opportunity to coach such a great young man," said Schneider, who served five-years as an assistant under former coach Ryan Shank. "With his drive and focus, Ta-Wayne can have very memorable college career."
The New Kensington Lions, 5-9 overall, are 5-4 in the PSUAC-West, three games behind frontrunner Penn State Beaver, 8-1, and 2.5 games ahead of third-place Penn State DuBois. Schneider's team is on the cusp of a playoff berth for the first time since 2008. The top two teams of each division, plus two "wild cards," are invited to the eight-team conference tournament that begins Feb. 17. The PSUAC conference comprises three divisions (North, South, West), and playoffs champion earns an automatic bid to the United States Collegiate Athletic Association national championship tournament in March.
Steele joins a select company of Penn State New Kensington athletes who have garnered USCAA Player of the Week honors. Teammate Justin Reed, who is nearing the 1,000 career point mark, is a two-time winner of the award. Adam Stawski was named to the honor roll during the 2009 golf season. Jeremy Hurt was recognized during the 2006-07 men’s basketball season and Heather Stewart earned the award during the 2007 women’s volleyball season.
National honors have been a staple of the campus athletics program since it joined the USCAA in 2005. In the past five seasons, five student-athletes have been named to the All-America team: Mende Hicks, women’s volleyball (2006-07); Jeremy Hurt, men’s basketball (2007-08); R.J. Hurt, men’s basketball (2007-08); Matt Miller, golf (2008-09); and Stawski, golf, (2009-10).
In addition, two student-athletes were selected to the USCAA Academic All America team: Christy Heasley, women’s volleyball (2006-07) and Jeremy Hurt (2006-07 and 2007-08), Kayla M. Smail, women's volleyball (2008-09);
The USCAA is a national organization that is geared to provide athletic opportunities to small colleges — those with enrollments of less than 1,500. It sponsors 11 national championship tournaments in men's and women's sports.
Established in 2001, the USCAA was incorporated to provide an opportunity for members to compete on an equal level of competition with schools of similar size and athletic programs. Headquartered in Newport News, Va., the organization has more than 65 member institutions in 24 states, stretching from Maine to California.