Even before beginning his ambitious upgrade of Alabama’s athletics facilities, the late Mal Moore as director of athletics first determined the need for an academics center for Crimson Tide athletes. He then raised the money – including a key donation from former Bama football player Bill Battle, then a private citizen – and completed the Bryant Hall renovation to the functional facility that has been instrumental in Bama having both athletics and academic success.
That was evident Thursday as it was announced that Alabama’s nominees for the Southeastern Conference’s H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Post-Graduate Scholarship are two of the Crimson Tide’s best and brightest.
Bill Battle, who was so instrumental for the Bryant Hall Academics Center, is now Alabama’s athletics director and announced that softball’s Haylie McCleney and men’s basketball’s Retin Obasohan have been nominated for the awards that go to the men’s and women’s SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
“Haylie and Retin are tremendous ambassadors for The University of Alabama and our athletics department, both as students and athletes as well as the way they strive to make a difference in the community around them,” Battle said. “Both have made extraordinary contributions to the success of their teams and are highly deserving of this latest honor.”
McCleney is a senior on the Crimson Tide’s nationally ranked softball team while Obasohan recently finished his career as a senior leader on the Alabama men’s basketball team that earned a berth in the National Invitation Tournament. Both earned SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors for their respective sports.
“Haylie and Retin are living examples of our mission ‘to compete for championships and build champions,’” Battle said. “We are very proud of all they have accomplished to this point in their respective careers.”
Alabama student-athletes have earned the McWhorter nine times since its inception in 1986, including – 2014 - Cory Whitsett (golf); 2013 - Barrett Jones (football); 2008 - Joseph Sykora (golf); 2007 - Emeel Salem (baseball); 2004 - Lauren Imwalle (soccer); 2003 - Kristin Sterner (gymnastics); 1997 - Meredith Willard (gymnastics); 1992 - Jeff Laubenthal (baseball); and 1987 - Julie Estin (gymnastics).
McCleney holds a 4.0 cumulative GPA as an exercise science major. She is a two-time first team Academic All-America and was named the CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year for Division I Softball in 2015. She is a three-time member of the SEC Honor Roll and is a finalist for the 2016 Senior CLASS Award.
On the field, McCleney is a three-time All-America and just the second player in program history to earn first team honors as an All-America and Academic All-America in the same season. She has been named All-SEC three times and has been named to the list of candidates for the USA Softball Player of the Year award in all four seasons. She is the Alabama career leader in batting average and on-base percentage while also holding top 10 marks in slugging percentage, hits, runs, triples, walks, and stolen bases. She owns three of the top 10 single-season batting averages in school history and set a single-season record in 2015 with a .588 on-base percentage.
Obasohan earned his undergraduate degree in finance in August 2015 and is on track to graduate in May with a master’s degree in marketing. He has maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA in grad school on his way to earning CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team honors. He is just the third different Alabama player to earn academic all-district honors.
On the court, Obasohan enjoyed a sensational senior season, becoming the first Alabama player since 2013 to earn both All-SEC first team and All-Defensive team honors. He was also selected United States Basketball Writers Association All-District first team, while the National Association of Basketball Coaches selected him to its all-district second team. The Antwerp, Belgium, native led the Tide with 17.6 points per game and finished with 14 games of 20 or more points on the season. He also topped the team in steals and minutes per game, field goals made and attempted, and free throws made and attempted. Obasohan stepped up his play during the conference portion of the season, becoming the first Tide player to average over 20 points per game in league play since the 1985-86 season (20.6).
Each year, the SEC, in conjunction with AT&T, an SEC official sponsor, provides the league's male and female McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Post-Graduate Scholarship recipients with a $15,000 post-graduate scholarship. The 26 remaining male and female finalists for the award will also receive a $7,500 post-graduate scholarship.
The award recipients are chosen by a committee of faculty athletics representatives from the 14 SEC institutions and are honored at the SEC Spring Meetings in Sandestin, Fla., in early June.