CHICKASHA – Adding to her ever-growing list of accolades, senior women’s basketball star Paige Pulliam was chosen as this year’s recipient of the exclusive Bill and Pat Smith Scholar-Athlete Award.
The award, which is given to up to two USAO senior athletes each year, is presented to a student who best embodies the concept of a student-athlete and upholds high ideals in scholarship, citizenship and athletic competition. Pulliam is the only recipient of the award this year.
“Paige is very deserving of this award. She has accomplished so much in her four years at USAO, excelling both on the court and in the classroom,” Head Women’s Basketball Coach Jennifer Hayden said. “Paige did an excellent job of balancing athletics and academics while also being an active participant in the campus community. I am very happy for her and know that she will continue to be successful.”
To qualify, athletes must be a senior set to graduate within the academic year, maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average and must have represented the university well in all aspects of student life.
“Paige is a model student-athlete who truly exemplifies the USAO creed: ‘Physical, Spiritual, Mental, Social,’” Dr. J.C. Sanders said in his nomination of Pulliam. “Her dedication to her studies and athletics is truly commendable.”
Sanders is an assistant professor of physics and the chairman of the Division of Science and Physical Education.
Athletically, Pulliam was a four-year starter for the Drovers and is one of only three athletes in women’s basketball history to score 1,000 career points, a milestone she met in the Sooner Athletic Conference tournament this season.
“For four years, Paige has illustrated leadership, determination and success both on and off the basketball court,” said Chris Basco, former athletic trainer and current associate dean of students. “As one of the team captains, she leads by example in the gym and in the classroom.”
This season, she led the Drovers in total points with 310, assists with 68 and steals with 57. Additionally, she was second on the team in rebounding by just one board, collecting 132 on the season. Pulliam ranked 21st in the NAIA in steals per game and in the top 30 in three-point field goal percentage, sinking nearly 39 percent of her long-range shots. For her career, Pulliam is responsible for 1,000 points, 361 rebounds, 218 assists and 163 steals and played in more than 100 games in her four years with the Drovers.
She is a two-time recipient of the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete honor and was named Academic All- Sooner Athletic Conference in 2013. This season, Pulliam was named All-Conference Honorable Mention.
Pulliam also is a previous recipient of a similar award — the Bill and Pat Smith Scholar-Athlete Scholarship. The scholarship also is offered to just one male and one female student each year, and students can qualify for up to two years. Pulliam received it both years she was eligible.
“It feels awesome. I actually was surprised I got the scholarship both years I was eligible, and then I got the award this year,” Pulliam said. “The past two years, the scholarship I got really helped me pay for student fees. That really helped me stay debt free.”
Pulliam has maintained a 3.83 grade point average through four years at the institution. She is a biology major with minors in chemistry and the liberal arts.
At USAO’s annual Minerva Awards, she was named a Division of Science and Physical Education Distinguished Graduate. She is graduating magna cum laude later this month.
Pulliam is a member of USAO’s campus-wide honor society, Hypatia, and the biology honor society Beta Beta Beta. Additionally, she regularly made the Honor Roll and was named a Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. She is an active member in Drovers Against Cancer and Women In Science Club.
“I want to thank Bill and Pat Smith, the committee members who chose me and those who nominated me,” Pulliam said. “I’m really honored.”
Pulliam is from Newcastle and is the daughter of Wes and Janice Pulliam.