Hayward, Thornton Named Top Butler Athletes

Basketball players Gordon Hayward and Melanie Thornton have been named recipients of Butler’s Most Outstanding Athlete Award for 2009-10.  The two standout performers were among four student-athletes recognized by the Butler athletic department with year-ending awards.

Hayward, who was picked ninth by the Utah Jazz in the 2010 NBA Summer Draft, helped lead Butler to the best men’s basketball season in school history.  He was the leading scorer (15.5) and rebounder (8.2) for the 33-5 Bulldogs, who advanced to the national title game of the 2010 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.  Butler won Horizon League regular season and tournament championships, compiled a nation-leading, 25-game winning streak and finished as the nation’s only unbeaten (18-0) conference champion.  The Bulldogs were nationally-ranked for 19 consecutive weeks and finished the season with a No. 2 ranking in the final ESPN/USA Today poll.

A 6-9 forward, Hayward was named the 2009-10 Horizon League Player of the Year, and he was a first team All-Horizon League pick for the second consecutive year.  He was selected as the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA West Regional, and he was named to the All-Tournament Team at the NCAA Final Four.  The second-year Butler player earned Mid-Major All-America recognition and was named a third-team Academic All-American.  

Thornton led the Butler women’s basketball team to a 23-10 season, runner-up finishes in the Horizon League regular season race and the Horizon League Tournament and a berth in the WNIT.  She was named Horizon League Player of the Year and Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year, while earning first team All-League recognition.

A four-year letterwinner, the 6-1 Thornton led the Bulldogs in both scoring (15.7) and rebounding (8.8).  She finished second in the Horizon League in scoring and third in rebounding, while ranking among the league leaders in both steals (2.4) and blocked shots (1.7).  The Butler team Most Valuable Player (MVP) closed out her career in fifth place on Butler’s all-time list for blocked shots (126).

Butler also recognized a pair of first-year athletes with the Frank “Pop” Hedden Award, which honors the outstanding male and female freshman student-athletes.  Men’s soccer player Julian Cardona was named the male recipient of the Pop Hedden Award, while track/cross country athlete Lauren McKillop was tabbed as the female honoree.

Cardona was the second-leading scorer for Butler’s Horizon League champion men’s soccer team.  He was named Horizon League Newcomer of the Year and chosen to the College Soccer News All-Freshman Team.  McKillop was named the Most Outstanding Runner at the 2010 Horizon League Outdoor Track and Field Championship, where she won individual titles in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter races.  She also captured the individual crown at the 2009 Horizon League Cross Country Championship.