After receiving the Dean Ehlers Leadership Award last season, McDowell was a co-honoree in 2012 along with Georgia State's Jihad Ali. It marked the third straight year in which a Tribe player took home the distinction, as David Schneider was the recipient in 2010. The honor, which has been presented to the deserving men's and women's basketball player since 1995, is named after former James Madison athletics director Dean Ehlers, who was a founding member of the conference, served as its first President and was a recognized leader through his membership on numerous NCAA Committees. The award is given to the student-athlete who "embodies the highest standards of leadership, integrity and sportsmanship in conjunction with his academic athletic achievement."
McDowell is the vice president of the W&M Student-Athlete Advisory Council and one of the select students at W&M to serve as a President's aide as a member of the W&M President's Council. A two-time First-Team CAA All-Academic selection, McDowell, who is also a two-time team captain, is heavily involved in the community. He is the President of the Tribe Fellowship student organization on campus and leads a Bible Study group comprised of high school students at the Williamsburg Community Chapel. Earlier this year, McDowell became the first CAA men's basketball player to be named a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, which honors the top senior NCAA Division I player with notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. Fans can continue to vote for McDowell at the Lowe's Senior Class Award Web site and on Facebook once daily through March 18. Fan vote accounts for a third of the deciding factor in the award along with votes from the Division I men's basketball head coach and the Division I men's basketball media.
McDowell is the only Tribe player to start all 31 games this season. He leads the Tribe and ranks 17th in the CAA at 12.7 points per game, while rankings 12th in the CAA at 35.1 percent from 3-point range. This season, McDowell established W&M school records in games played (125) and minutes played (4,054). He became the fourth player in W&M history with over 1,600 career points and 500 career rebounds.
After ranking among the league leaders in scoring, Thornton was named to the CAA All-Rookie Team along with Drexel's Damion Lee, Northeastern's Quincy Ford, UNCW's Adam Smith and Delaware's Jarvis Threat. Thornton, who became the seventh player under head coach Tony Shaver to earn All-Rookie honors, ranked second on the Tribe and 22nd in the CAA at 11.1 points per game, which was third among league rookies. He was even better in conference play, averaging nearly 12 points per game, while shooting 39.1 percent from 3-point range. His scoring average in league games only ranked 18th, and his 3-point percentage was the sixth best in the CAA. The Upper Marlboro, Md., native had a trio of 20-point performances in CAA action, including a career-high 28 points against VCU on Feb. 1. On two occasions in 2011-12, Thornton was named the CAA Rookie of the Week, garnering the honor on Jan. 9 and Feb. 6.
With McDowell, Rusthoven and Britt earning CAA All-Academic Team honors, the Tribe placed three of its five starters among the league's academic elite for the second time in three years. The Green and Gold also pulled the trick in 2010. Under head coach Tony Shaver, the Tribe has produced 25 CAA All-Academic team honorees, the most in the CAA since 2004. A religious studies major, McDowell earned CAA All-Academic First Team honors for the second straight season and was recognized for the third time after receiving second team accolades in 2010. Rusthoven (first team) and Britt (second team) earned honors in the first year in which they were eligible. McDowell and Rusthoven give the Tribe two CAA All-Academic First Team selections for the first time since 2004.
After missing the first six games of the year due to injury, Rusthoven started 23 of the Tribe's last 24 games. He ranks 28th in the CAA at 10.2 points per game, while coming in 12th in the league at 6.6 rebounds per game. Rusthoven has posted three double-doubles on the year and ranks fourth in the CAA in field goal percentage at 53.9 percent. Britt started 24 of the Tribe's 31 games this season and ranks fourth on the team at 9.2 points per game. The Chesapeake, Va., native scored a season-high 24 points in the Tribe's 79-54 win over Northeastern on Feb. 11.
Howard and Pavloff earned All-Academic honorable mention distinction for the second straight season, while Gaillard and Heldring received the accolade for the first time. A double major in English and marketing, Howard earned his first collegiate start earlier this season against Eastern Kentucky and equaled his career high in scoring with four points against Lehigh. Pavloff, who is majoring in finance, has appeared in 16 contests this season, averaging 1.2 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. He scored a career-high seven points vs. Lehigh and pulled down a career-best five rebounds at James Madison. A finance major, Gaillard is redshirting the 2011-12 season after suffering an offseason injury. He has appeared in 65 career games with 18 starts and last season averaged 5.8 points per game, including a career-high 25 at North Carolina. Heldring is majoring a business and has appeared in 29 games for the Green and Gold with four starts in 2011-12. He is averaging two points and 1.8 rebounds per game, including career highs with 10 points and six rebounds at Hampton earlier this season.
The Tribe will open play in the CAA Tournament on Friday, March 2, against the No. 7 seed Northeastern at 6 p.m. in the Richmond Coliseum. The winner of the Tribe-Huskies matchup will advance to the quarterfinals to meet No. 2-seeded VCU on Saturday, March 3, at 6 p.m. Fans can catch all the action over the Tribe Radio Network with Jay Colley, Bill McDonald and Charlie Woollum on the call. The Tide 92.3 FM in Williamsburg is the flagship station of the Tribe Radio Network and the broadcast can be heard over the Web at TribeAthletics.com. Fans can purchase the live video stream of the Tribe's opening round game against NU at CAASports.com for $4.95.