Wheaton, Ill. — Wheaton College (Ill.) senior Aston Francis has been selected as the recipient of the prestigious 2019 Bevo Francis Award for his stellar efforts on and off the basketball floor. The Bevo Francis award Bevo Francis Award is presented annually by Small College Basketball to the player who had the finest overall season within small college basketball. Considerations are made for season statistics, individual achievements, awards, personal character and team achievements. All men's basketball players at the NCAA Division III and Division II, NAIA Division I and Division II, USCAA Division I and Division II, and NCCAA Division I and Division II are eligible for the award.
This marks the fourth season of the Bevo Francis Award and Aston Francis' selection marks the first time an NCAA Division III player has received the award. The award was previously given to Dominez Burnett of Davenport University (NAIA Division II) in 2016, Justin Pitts of Northwest Missouri State (NCAA Division II) in 2017 and Emanuel Terry of Lincoln Memorial (NCAA Division II) last season.
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The award joins a long list of accolades this season for Aston Francis. Last month he became Wheaton's first recipient of the Josten's Trophy. He was a unanimous Division III All-American, earning First Team recognition from D3hoops.com and D3News to go with Second Team accolades from the NABC. A two-time CCIW "Most Outstanding Player" honoree he also received the Central Region Player of the Year award from D3hoops.com for the second-consecutive season.
Francis led NCAA Division III in six significant categories this season: total points (1,096); points per game (34.3 PPG); three-pointers made (173); three-pointers per game (5.41 3PG); field goals made (348) and free throws made (227). In fact, he led all men's players at four-year colleges this season in total points; points per game, total field goals made; three-pointers made and three-pointers per game. His 34.3 points per game average broke the NCAA Division III record for points in a single season and is the 14th-highest single-season total in NCAA history (all divisions). His 173 three-pointers this year is the second highest single-season total in NCAA history (all divisions). Francis also led the Thunder with 7.9 rebounds per game and finished second on the team with 3.1 assists per game.
Francis helped lead Wheaton to an NCAA Division III national semifinal for the first time in program history this season (Editor's Note: Wheaton previously made semifinals appearances in the NAIA and NCAA College Division tournaments in the 1950's). His sensational postseason performance set four NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament records and two single-game tournament records. His 44.8 points per game in the tournament broke the previous tournament record of 37.3 points by Kyle Myrick of Lincoln (Pa.). Francis scored 224 points in Wheaton's five postseason games to break the previous tournament record of 177 points by Williams' Michael Nogelo in 1998. The Thunder senior made 72 field goals in this year's tournament as he broke the previous tournament record of 68 field goals by Greg Grant of TCNJ in 1989. Francis' 36 three-pointers in the tournament surpassed the old tournament record of 35 treys made by Augustana's Kirk Anderson in 1993. His 62 points in Wheaton's victory over Marietta is also a Division III Tournament single-game record and his 12 three-pointers in that game tied the Division III Tournament single-game record.
In his three seasons for the Thunder, Francis rewrote the Wheaton record books, finishing second in points scored with 2,406 career points, which also ranks fifth in CCIW history. He also ranks second in school history with 783 career made field goals, fifth in school history with 443 career made free throws and 11th in school history with 287 career assists. His 388 career three-pointers smashed the previous school record and rank seventh in Division III history. His career scoring average of 28.9 points per game established a new school record and ranks sixth in Division III history and his average of 4.68 three-pointers per game is the fourth-highest in Division III history.
"Congratulations to Aston Francis, winner of the prestigious 2019 Bevo Francis Award," said Small College Basketball founder John McCarthy. "Frankly, Aston is amazing. It was such a joy to watch him play. He's the best scorer that I've seen in NCAA Division III basketball, and his NCAA Tournament run is the best individual postseason tournament run, collectively, that I have witnessed. McCarthy concluded, "What he did this season was absolutely remarkable. With his performance, along with his team's run to the NCAA Division III Final Four and his tremendous personal character, he's earned this prestigious award."
The Thunder senior will be presented with the 2019 Bevo Francis Award on May 11 at the Small College Basketball National Awards Show in conjunction with the Small College Basketball Alumni Association's Celebration of the Game event at the Crowne Plaza in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
The Bevo Francis Award committee chose Wheaton's Francis from thousands of players at more than 1,100 colleges and universities. Members of the Bevo Francis Award committee include the following coaches: Tobin Anderson - St. Thomas Aquinas (N.Y.), Gerald Holmes - Bloomfield (N.J.), Gary Stewart - Stevenson (Md.), Arlen Galloway - Wentworth (Mass.), Chris Briggs - Georgetown (Ky.), Bill Dreikosen - Rocky Mountain (Mont.), Klint Pleasant - Rochester (Mich.), Ryan Kane - Ripon (Wisc.), Mark Berokoff – Hillsdale Baptist (Okla.), Mike Donnelly – Florida Southern, Rhett Soliday – Vanguard (Calif.), Sam Hargraves – Alma (Mich.) and Ryan Looney – Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.).
The Bevo Francis Award is named after Clarence "Bevo" Francis who played at Rio Grande College (now the University of Rio Grande) in Ohio in 1952-53 and 1953-54. During his two seasons at Rio Grande, Bevo became the most popular basketball player in the world and ultimately helped to save the school from bankruptcy. During his first year, Rio Grande went 39-0, and Bevo scored 1,954 points and averaged 50.1 points per game. Against Ashland College, Francis scored 116 points, which included 55 points in the final 10 minutes of the game.
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