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The 2024 official #BESPY awards

Graphic by Rodrigo Perez.

As is tradition with the last edition of the year, the BESPYs are back. 

The Scout’s version of the ESPYs returns with eight new end-of-season awards celebrating Bradley’s teams and student-athletes. A total of 939 votes were tallied over on the @ScoutSportsDesk Twitter account to determine the winners, with your votes deciding the best of the best on the Hilltop this season.

Without further ado, here are your 2023-24 BESPY winners.

Team of the Year – Men’s Basketball (46.2%)

Graphic by Rodrigo Perez.

It’s safe to say that this season was one of the most competitive in the Valley, with Drake, Indiana State and Bradley looking for the crown in St. Louis. Even though the Braves didn’t make it all the way, there was still a lot to celebrate. While most teams were still finding their footing early in the season, Bradley got some hardware. Starting the season on a seven-game winning streak, the Braves made light work of the SoCal Challenge and competed when they didn’t have all their pieces. Beating Loyola-Chicago at Carver must have also swayed some of the votes, and that’s why Bradley men’s basketball takes Team of the Year. 

Finalists: Softball (20%), Men’s and women’s cross country (18.5%), Women’s golf (15.4%)

Honorable mention: Men’s and women’s track and field

Graphic by Rodrigo Perez.

Coach of the Year – Brian Wardle (63.2%)

Brian Wardle has accomplished quite a bit during his 10 years on the Hilltop, and this season was no exception. Bringing the SoCal Challenge surfboard back from California, the Braves recorded a second consecutive 20-win season. Even though important players like junior Connor Hickman were injured, Wardle was able to make it work by incorporating the younger members on this season’s Bradley team. For that, Wardle has rightfully earned Coach of the Year. 

Finalists: Andrew Carlson (17.1%), Sarah Willis (14.5%), Halley Morell (5.3%)

Honorable mention: Jim DeRose

Graphic by Rodrigo Perez.

Female Athlete of the Year – Halli Poock (34%)

Poock was one of the lone bright spots for the Bradley women’s basketball team. The crafty point guard broke out in her third game as a Brave, tallying 16 points, two steals and three assists. From there, Poock proceeded to have one of the best freshman seasons in Braves history, finishing second in school history in points, fourth in assists and third in 3-pointers. She led the team in points, assists and tied for the lead in steals on her way to placements on the MVC All-Freshman Team and All-MVC Third Team.

Finalists: Sydney Kennedy (30.6%), Julia Nielsen (27.8%), Jasmine Green (7.6%)

Honorable mentions: Karagan Coggin, Grace Aromando, Trixie Wraith, Bailey Sample

Graphic by Rodrigo Perez.

Male Athlete of the Year – Timmy O’Brien (70.2%)

A depleted Bradley baseball team found a bright spot in junior first baseman Timmy O’Brien. The Braves’ cleanup hitter came back from a year lost due to injury and now leads the team in home runs, RBIs, total bases and slugging percentage. O’Brien had back-to-back two-homer games against Iowa and Evansville, has six games of three-plus RBIs and three games of four RBIs. It’s been an unlucky season for the Braves in the cellar of the MVC, but O’Brien’s breakout helped him beat out the likes of Malevy Leons and Duke Deen for Male Athlete of the Year.

Finalists: Malevy Leons (17.9%), Duke Deen (8.5%), Jack Crull (3.4%)

Honorable mentions: Charlie Dickerson, Logan Delgado, Beau Durbin, Michael Rebello

Graphic by Rodrigo Perez.

Newcomer of the Year – Beau Durbin (58.2%)

Durbin is a Morton High School graduate that comes to Bradley by way of Illinois Central College. In his first year as a Brave, the sophomore second baseman already leads the team in batting average (.366), OPS (.933) and hits (49), taking over the second spot in the order pretty quickly. He hit a grand slam against Indiana State and had four-hit games against Illinois State and Eastern Illinois, allowing him to take home Newcomer of the Year from a crop of impressive athletes.

Finalists: Sydney Kennedy (30.6%), Dru Kuck (6.1%), Charlie Dickerson (5.1%)

Honorable mentions: Kevin Mejias, Kaylen Nelson

Graphic by Mason Klemm.

Most Improved Player – Christian Davis (59.8%)

Guard/forward Christian Davis stepped up tremendously for Bradley men’s basketball this season, resulting in his best year as a Brave. The redshirt junior improved his scoring and rebounding averages from 2022-23, more than quadrupling both of them, while also playing nearly 20 more minutes a game. He also shined from the 3-point line, making 33 more threes this season compared to last and making two or more threes in 13 games. His improvement was a welcome sight for Bradley fans throughout the team’s year, and he’s rewarded with the BESPY for Most Improved Player.

Finalists: Connor Hickman (17.9%), Abbott Badgley (12.5%), Jasmine Green (9.8%)

Honorable mentions: Grace Aromando, Kierston McCoy, Jared Sinnaeve

Graphic by Mason Klemm.

Freshman of the Year – Demarion Burch (50.8%)

A lot of people were excited when they heard high-impact guard Demarion Burch was coming to the Hilltop, and he gave them something to cheer for. Often playing as the sixth or seventh man off the bench, Burch averaged 4.8 points and 2.4 rebounds on 44% shooting this season, pairing well with fellow guards Duke Deen and Connor Hickman while also providing for himself when he ran point. When two guards left the program during the season, Burch had to step into a bigger role and didn’t back down from the challenge. For that, he earns Freshman of the Year.

Finalists: Halli Poock (38.6%), Jayde Rosslee (6.1%), DJ Koulai (4.5%)

Honorable mentions: Carter Stevenson, Andra Sirbu, Almar Atlason, Jillian Cosler

Graphic by Mason Klemm.

Role Player of the Year – Christian Davis (64.9%)

Davis became our only two-time winner in this year’s BESPYs, as his production off the bench of Bradley’s men’s basketball team was crucial in the team’s third-place finish in the MVC. He averaged 7.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game on 40% shooting, providing a spark in all 35 games of the Braves’ season, including 11 starts. Davis scored in double figures 10 times, including a season-high 16 against Tarleton State and Cleveland State, and played 30-plus minutes 13 times. A spot-up shooter and someone who always attacks the glass, Davis has already committed to returning next year to try and lead Bradley back to the NCAA Tournament.

Finalists: Abbott Badgley (15.6%), Dru Kuck (13%), Jackson Fyda (6.5%)

Honorable mention: Anthony Potthoff

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