LAS CRUCES – Already one of the most decorated Aggies of all time, former women’s basketball star Brooke Salas has been named the Joe Kearney Award winner by the Western Athletic Conference, the league announced Monday. The award is named after former WAC commissioner Joe Kearney and is given annually to the top female and male student-athletes in the conference. Grand Canyon swimmer Mark Nikolaev took home the honor for male student-athletes.
“There are not too many student-athletes like Brooke Salas, she made everyone around her better,” said head coach Brooke Atkinson. “She has made such a long-lasting impact on this program, this university and this community. This award is just another reminder of what she has done in her time here at NM State. We are very proud of her!”
Salas led the WAC in points (629), rebounds (367), rebounds per game (11.1), blocks (54), field goal percentage (47.7), field goals made (242), double-doubles (21) and defensive rebounds per game (8.0) as she was named WAC Player of the Year for the second-consecutive season. She also earned WAC All-Defensive team honors twice and First-Team All-WAC honors three times. The Placentia, Calif., native won WAC Defensive Player of the Year honors and became the first player in league history to win Player of Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season.
In addition to her conference honors, Salas guided the Aggies to four regular-season and three WAC Tournament championships to go along with three NCAA Tournament appearances. For her NM State career, she holds the record for blocks (156), ranks second all-time in scoring (1,931), third in steals (233) and field goals made (742) and her 953 rebounds are good for fifth. In the WAC record books, Salas stands at third in field goals made, fourth in rebounds and fifth in scoring.
“After an incredible year of accomplishments for Brooke Salas winning the Joe Kearney Award is the cherry on top,” said Director of Athletics Mario Moccia. “Brooke is one of the most decorated athletes in school history. While her athletic accomplishments are well documented she is a better person and student. Those that know her well would say the selection committee really got this one right. NM State Athletics is very happy for Brooke and wish her well in her future endeavors.”
Nationally, Salas ranked ninth in double-doubles, 13th in defensive rebounds per game and 14th in rebounds. The 5-11 guard also recorded just the second triple-double in school history with 32 points, 22 rebounds and 11 blocks against Alcorn State at the FIU Holiday Invitational in Miami.