10 Finalists for the NCAA's 2011-12 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award

Doug BrodessCorrespondent IJanuary 27, 2012

10 Finalists for the NCAA's 2011-12 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award

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    Ten college basketball players were named as finalist for the 2012 Lowe's CLASS (Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School) Award.

    To qualify for consideration, a student-athlete must be an NCAA Division I senior and have noteworthy accomplishments in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.

    Here, in alphabetical order, are the 10 finalists—10 exceptional athletes who are doing great work on and off the court.

    On each slide, a link will be provided where you can go to the award website and vote for one of these multi-talented individuals. 

William Buford: Ohio State

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    William Buford is having an outstanding senior season for the No. 3-ranked Buckeyes, averaging 15.2 points. 4.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

    The African American Studies major is on track to graduate this spring.

    Buford has been involved in several community service programs while at Ohio State, including work with “A Kid Again,” an organization that provides experiences for children with life-threatening illnesses.

Ashton Gibbs: Pittsburgh

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    Ashton Gibbs is, once again, one of the top guards in the nation, averaging 16.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg and 3.1 assists.

    The Communications major is an Academic All-America candidate with a 3.0-plus grade point average. He is a two-time Big East Academic All-Star.

Draymond Green: Michigan State

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    Draymond Green may be one of the most versatile players this year in the Big Ten.

    Green is averaging 15 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.

    Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo puts Green "in the same leadership category as Magic Johnson and Mateen Cleaves."

Mick Hedgepeth: Belmont

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    Mick Hedgepeth is a solid forward (9.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg) who has helped Belmont become one of the top mid-major programs in the nation.

    What is equally impressive are his classroom stats.

    Hedgepeth is an Accounting major who holds a 3.71 GPA.

Robbie Hummel: Purdue

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    Robbie Hummel may be one of the hardest-working players in college basketball.

    Having overcome two serious knee injuries, Purdue's forward is having an excellent senior season (15.4 pg, 6.3 rpg).

    Besides excelling on the court, Hummel is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree (2009, 2010) with a 3.16 GPA as a Management major.

    If that weren't enough, Hummel frequently makes trips to local elementary schools and preschools to read to students in an effort to promote literacy at an early age.

Quinn McDowell: William and Mary

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    Just because Quinn McDowell may be the least-known player on this list hasn't stopped him from assembling an impressive record of accomplishments.

    On the court, McDowell, the leading returning scorer in the CAA, is averaging 12.8 ppg and 4.7 rpg.

    Off the court, the Religious Studies major with a minor in Economics is ready to graduate with a 3.26 GPA.

    McDowell leads a weekly high school student Bible study in a local Williamsburg church.

Ronald Nored: Butler

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    Ronald Nored is capping off a tremendous all-around college career by averaging 8.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 4.9 apg.

    Not only has he played in two consecutive NCAA Championship games for Butler, Nored was named to the 2011 Lefty Driesell Defensive All-American team.

    Nored, a Secondary Education major, was named to the 2010-11 Horizon League All-Academic team.

    Also, Nored serves as a youth basketball coach and is a frequent speaker at area schools and churches.

Zack Novak: Michigan

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    Zack Novak has helped Michigan basketball become relevant again, making trips to the NCAA Tournament in two of the last three years (after a 12-year absence).

    Novak, whose versatility has helped him to play multiple positions for the Wolverines, is averaging 9.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg and 2.0 apg.

    Novak's on-court excellence is matched by his accomplishments in the classroom. He is enrolled in Michigan's distinguished Stephen M. Ross School of Business, where he has won numerous awards for academic achievement.

Zack Rosen: Penn

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    Zack Rosen does it all on and off the court.

    Rosen is one of the most productive players in the Ivy League, averaging 18.3 ppg (No. 2 in the conference), 3.4 rpg and 6.2 apg (leads the conference).

    Earlier this season, he became the school's all-time assists leader.

    Rosen is also on track to graduate from Penn's world-renowned Wharton School of Business with an emphasis on Management.

Tyler Zeller: North Carolina

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    Tyler Zeller is one of the best big men in college basketball, averaging 14.7 ppg and 9.7 rpg this season.

    He is one of the main reasons that the Tar Heels have a good chance of making a deep run in this year's NCAA Tournament.

    Off the court, Zeller is an outstanding student, carrying a 3.57 GPA in Business Administration. He was one of five players selected to the CoSIDA's 2011 Capitol One Academic All-America team, becoming the first Tar Heel player to win such honors since 1994.

    He works with the Special Olympics and shops for needy children at Christmas.