SFA Athletics Release
Stephen F. Austin senior guard/forward Thomas Walkup was named the 2016 Lou Henson National Player of the Year. The first-ever Southland Conference recipient of the award, which has been presented annually to the nation’s best mid-major player since 2010, Walkup learned of his honor via a press release issued by the Lou Henson Player of the Year Award Committee.
In late March, the senior out of Pasadena, Texas, becomes the first player in Stephen F. Austin’s NCAA Division I history and the third ‘Jack overall to capture All-America honors in back-to-back when he laid claim to Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American accolades. He joins former SFA greats James Silas (1970-71) and Pete Harris (1972-73) as the only three players in program history to repeat as All-Americans.
All Walkup did in the last leg of arguably the best career ever by an SFA player was lead the ‘Jacks to a 28-6 record which included an 18-0 record in Southland Conference play as well as the most lopsided 14-seed over three-seed upset in NCAA Tournament history.
In that bracket shakeup, Walkup pumped in 33 points for the 14th-seeded ‘Jacks in their 70-56 win over No. 8-ranked West Virginia, pushing SFA forward into the round of 32 for just the second time in program history. That win was just the 20th time in the history of the NCAA Tournament that a 14-seed defeated a three-seed.
His All-America citation is the latest in a long list of 2015-16 awards for the senior that includes Southland Conference Player of the Year, All-Southland Conference First Team, Southland Conference All-Defensive Team, Southland Conference Tournament MVP, USBWA All-District VII and NABC All-District 23 First Team accolades.
Walkup made a number of impressive changes to the ‘Jacks career and single-season record books by averaging a team-leading 18.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists over the course of 34 games. He ended his career as the program’s all-time leading scorer (1,744 points) and rebounder (754) as well as having the most field goals made (633) and most wins in a career (116).
Ranking among the top five in no fewer than seven statistical categories in the Southland Conference, Walkup also established new SFA single-season records in points (615), field goals made (217), free throws made (171) and steals (71).
The biggest testament to Walkup’s on-court versatility came on February 29 when he registered SFA’s first triple-double in 43 seasons in an 84-58 win at Incarnate Word. He scored 12 points and added career-highs in rebounds (15) and assists (10) in just 28 minutes of work.
When his 2015-16 numbers are put up against all other NCAA Division I men’s basketball players, Walkup’s field goal percentage of .588 is the 29th-best in the nation and his 2.1 steals per game and 71 total steals rank 21st and 16th respectively.
SFA laid claim to its fourth-straight Southland Conference regular season title, becoming the only team in league history to win four consecutive outright league crowns. The ‘Jacks were also the nation’s only team to go undefeated in conference play in 2015-16.