KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Character, heart and a team-centric attitude are the qualities simply dripping from USAO senior Graham Faulkner, who was named an NAIA Champion of Character at the 2013 Buffalo Funds- NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship.
Faulkner was one of 32 players nationwide to earn the prestigious honor. Players are chosen who best exemplify the five core values of the NAIA: Integrity, Respect, Responsibility, Sportsmanship and Servant Leadership.
“To be named a Champion of Character, looking around at any of the other players they could pick … more than anything I am just honored,” Faulkner said. “It’s really humbling. A lot of people think they’re a good person, but for other people to recognize that, that is the highest honor.”
USAO head coach Brisco McPherson said Faulkner exudes the five core values, particularly sportsmanship.
“You’re talking about a team guy, his picture will be by that definition,” McPherson said. “He’s just a guy who has never, ever wanted anything other than to win. He never has cared about his personal stats.”
In February, Faulkner earned the Co-Sportsmanship Award for the Sooner Athletic Conference.
“You talk about character, I don’t know if you’ll find a kid who has better character than Graham,” McPherson said. “Everyone in the league probably thinks the same way I do about him.”
Faulkner said his philosophy on how he approaches life and treats others comes down to one simple thing.
“I try to display the five characteristics toward other people,” he said. “A lot of it is just wrapped up in love.”
Faulkner has played for the Drovers for four years, finishing up his senior season. He was injured in the Drovers’ second to last regular season game at Lubbock Christian and has had to sit out during the post season.
In his four years at USAO, he has played in 101 games and scored nearly 457 points for the Drovers, but it was his flexibility and team spirit McPherson will miss the most.
“He is one of the most coachable players,” McPherson said. “I just think he’s a good guy. A guy you just need on your team.”