ESPY Preview Part 6: Albany Looks to Make its Mark
While we’ve chronicled your favorite New York teams/athletes chances to win at the ESPYs tonight (8 p.m.), today’s preview should hold more significance for those of us in the Albany area.
UAlbany lacrosse standout Lyle Thompson is nominated in the category of “Best Male College Athlete.” Thompson’s season and the entire Thompson family’s contribution to lacrosse has been well documented, as has his Native American heritage. Fittingly, Thompson will not be in attendance at the ceremony because he is currently playing for the Iroquois Nationals in the Federation of International Lacrosse Championships.
Category: Best Male College Athlete
New York Athlete Represented: Lyle Thompson, lacrosse, University at Albany
The Rest of the Field: Johnny Gaudreau (BC, Hockey), Doug McDermott (Creighton, Basketball), David Taylor (Penn State, Wrestling), Jameis Winston (Florida State, Football/Baseball).
About Lyle Thompson: Thompson split the Tewaaraton Award (lacrosse equivalent of the Heisman Trophy) with his brother Miles after scoring an NCAA-record 128 points. He had 51 goals and 77 assists in helping the Great Danes advance to the NCAA tournament. UAlbany beat No. 1 Loyola in the tournament’s first round before falling to Notre Dame in the second round.
Lyle, Miles, and their cousin Ty all played at UAlbany this past season. The family connection — and their Native American heritage — were well documented and publicized, giving them a lot of national exposure. When Lyle and Miles shared the Tewaaraton Award, they became the first Native Americans to win.
About the Field: Gaudreau won the Hobey Baker Award (nation’s best player) en route to helping the Eagles advance to the NCAA Frozen Four, where they fell to Union College. He scored in 31 consecutive games and posted the highest scoring total in the last 11 years with his 80 points.
Taylor was named the NCAAs most dominant wrestler after earning his second national title. A perfect 34-0 on the year, Taylor also helped Penn State to their fourth straight team title.
McDermott, who was recently a draft pick of the Chicago Bulls, earned AP, Wooden Award, and U.S. Basketball Writers Association Player of the Year Awards in 2013-14. He led the Blue Jays to the NCAA tournament after leading the nation in scoring at 26.7 points per game. He shot better than 50 percent from the floor and was an astounding 44.9 percent from three-point range.
And finally, there’s Winston. The Florida State dual-sport athlete won the Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman and led the ‘Noles to a BCS Championship win over Auburn. He threw for more than 4,000 yards and added 40 touchdowns. He is the only teenager (19) to ever win the Heisman. He also made 24 appearances on the mound, posting a 1.08 ERA and nailing down seven saves for the baseball team.
Predictions: I think that Thompson shows well in the voting, before ultimately falling to Winston. Thompson’s family background, loyalty to his heritage, not to mention gaudy statistics, will endear him to voters. But Winston plays two sports that are still more nationally known and will open himself up to broader range of voters. He also won the national title, and that makes him my clear-cut winner.