Bulletin Staff Report

RICHARDSON -- Howard Payne University junior basketball player Meia Daniels and University of Mary Hardin-Baylor senior football player Josh Kubiak — two student-athletes who led their respective teams to American Southwest Conference championships and deep runs in NCAA Division III national tournaments — have been selected as the 2006-07 ASC Athletes of the Year, the league office announced on Thursday.

The American Southwest Conference Athlete of the Year award recognizes the male and female student-athlete whose athletic accomplishments best contributed to their sport, their institution’s overall athletic program and to the conference for that athletic year.

Each ASC member institution nominates its campus Athlete of the Year award recipients to the conference-wide ballot. A vote of the ASC sports information directors and selected media members determine the recipients.

“What a great honor for a remarkable player,” said HPU Director of Athletics Mike Jones. “She is not only a great athlete but also a wonderful young lady. Meia is very deserving of this award and we are very proud of her.”

Daniels, a political science major, led HPU to its most successful season (28-2) and highest national ranking (No. 2 in D3hoops.com) in school history.

The 5-8 guard also spearheaded the Lady Jackets’ second ASC title in three years — winning the 2006-07 tournament’s Most Valuable Player award in front of a record-setting home crowd at the Brownwood Coliseum — and first-ever appearance in the Sweet 16.

Daniels was a Kodak/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association honorable mention All-American and landed on the second team of D3hoops.com’s All-America squad. She was also voted South Region Player of the Year by both.

She was also an All-ASC selection for the second straight year, one of only two juniors honored on the 2006-07 team, and was a first-team ASC All-West Division pick.

Daniels averaged 16.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game for Howard Payne this season, passing 1,000 points for her career in the process. She now stands at 1,472 points, which ranks her third in Lady Jackets history.

“Meia is not only a great player for our program, but an outstanding leader and person,” said Lady Jackets head coach Chris Kielsmeier. “She is a great example of what Howard Payne women’s basketball is all about.”

Kubiak, a business communications major, was voted ASC Defensive Player of the Year and became the first player in ASC football history to win an outright individual conference award in back-to-back seasons.

The 6-0, 190-pound free safety helped the UMHB defense lead the nation in rushing defense this season and also helped pace the Crusaders to the ASC championship and a spot in the national quarterfinals.

He finished the 2006 season with 72 tackles, six tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, seven pass break-ups and two blocked kicks.