News

Honorees announced for 2019-2020 Basketball Senior CLASS Award

April 6, 2020

Congratulations to Consensus First Team All-American guard Markus Howard from Marquette University, and First Team All-American guard Sabrina Ionescu from the University of Oregon, on their outstanding achievements and being selected as the 2019-2020 Senior CLASS Award® winners in NCAA® Division I men’s and women’s basketball. The award, chosen by a nationwide vote of Division I men’s and women’s basketball coaches, national basketball media and fans, is given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in Division I men’s and women’s basketball. Both honorees are the first student-athletes to win the Senior CLASS Award for their individual schools.



An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: classroom, community, character and competition.



Markus Howard

“I am extremely grateful to receive the Senior CLASS Award and want to thank everyone who was involved in the decision, especially our tremendous fans, who were so supportive during the voting process,” said Howard, who led NCAA Division I in scoring during the 2019-20 season by averaging 27.8 points per game. “One of my goals when I arrived on campus was to have an impact on our community beyond basketball and the resources provided by the Marquette family allowed me to accomplish that goal and I am sincerely appreciative of the opportunity.”

Howard spent a portion of his high school basketball career at Findley Prep in Nevada, where he led the state in scoring by averaging 32.4 points per game. He had a smooth transition to collegiate basketball once he arrived at Marquette and was selected to the Big East’s All-Freshman team while leading the nation in three-point field-goal percentage (.547). As a natural scorer, Howard continued to reach milestones throughout his career with the Golden Eagles. As a junior, he was unanimously named the Big East Player of the Year and set Marquette’s single-season scoring mark with 851 points during the 2018-19 campaign, including a Big East record 53-point performance against Creighton. In his senior season, Howard was a consensus First Team All-American by the Associated Press, Sporting News, NABC and USBWA as well as being a unanimous All-Big East First Team selection. His NCAA-leading 27.8 points per game helped Howard become Marquette’s all-time leading scorer with 2,761 career points and positioned him in a tie for seventh place in NCAA history with 434 career three-pointers.

“Markus is, and will continue to be, a tremendous ambassador for Marquette University,” said Steve Wojciechowski, who led the Golden Eagles to an 18-12 record this season. “The Senior CLASS Award is the perfect honor to recognize his impact on campus in the areas of community, classroom, character and competition.  Markus maximized his voice as a student-athlete as well as anyone I have ever seen and as a result, he has been able to make a positive impact on the lives of countless individuals.”

While pursuing his degree in digital media, Howard also excels in the classroom and has earned academic All-Big East status. He is also one of only two student-athletes nationwide who are members of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee. Howard co-founded the Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter on the Marquette campus, and is a vocal leader when it comes to spreading awareness about mental health by sharing his personal struggles of balancing academics and competition. By collecting more than 100 hours of community service and working with the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Boys & Girls Club and more, Howard displays his true character and dedication to the Marquette community in meaningful and impactful ways.

“Markus Howard has spent four years demonstrating how he embodies all elements of the Senior CLASS Award,” said Erik Miner, Executive Director of the Senior CLASS Award. “From his dynamic performances on the basketball court, to his impact within the community, Markus has excelled in becoming an exquisite role model and inspiration for those following in his footsteps. It’s our honor to congratulate Markus Howard and Marquette University for winning this prestigious award.”



Sabrina Ionescu

“Being able to play the game I love with people that I love has been nothing short of amazing,” said Ionescu, who helped lead the Ducks to a 31–2 record and a Pac-12 regular-season conference championship. “It has taught me life lessons that I wouldn’t have been able to learn doing anything else. Attending the University of Oregon and getting my undergraduate degree, and now working towards my Masters, has prepared me for life after basketball and has shaped me into the person that I am.”

From her hometown of Walnut Creek, California, Ionescu earned National Player of the Year honors in high school by USA Today and Maxpreps before transitioning her career to the University of Oregon. Her impact was immediately noticed on the court as she was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year after recording four triple-doubles, a freshman NCAA record, during the 2016-17 season. Ionescu’s accolades only increased during her sophomore season. She earned the Pac-12 Player of the Year and was named First-Team All-America by the Associated Press, WBCA, ESPNW, USA Today and USBWA. As a junior, Ionescu elevated her game even further by winning the Wooden Award and Wade Trophy on top of repeating as Pac-12 Player of the Year and numerous First-Team All-America honors. In her senior season, Ionescu became just the second player in history to unanimously win the Associated Press’ National Player of the Year award. She was also unanimously named the Pac-12 Player of the Year to accompany her list of First-Team All-America honors by the USBWA and Associated Press. Ionescu became the first player (female or male) in NCAA history to surpass 2,000 career points. 1,000 career rebounds and 1,000 assists. She is also the NCAA’s all-time leader with 26 career triple-doubles. Ionescu finishes her career at Oregon as the all-time leader in points (2,562), assists (1,091), three-point field goals (329) and double-figure scoring games (134).

“Sabrina is the consummate team player in every aspect and I think she exemplifies everything that is good about intercollegiate athletics,” said Pac-12 Coach of the Year Kelly Graves, who led the Ducks to their third consecutive season with at least 28 wins. “Her class and poise were personified on the day she spoke at Kobe Bryant and (his daughter) Gianna’s memorial. To deliver such an elegant eulogy in the morning, and then turn around and fly up to the Bay Area to record a triple-double against Stanford on national television later that evening just shows what an extraordinary young woman she is to accomplish all of that in one day. She is a great person, teammate, player, citizen and student.”

As impressive as her on-court accomplishes are, Ionescu also excels in the classroom. She earned her bachelor’s degree in general social sciences (with a minor in legal studies) in just three years since arriving on campus. Ionescu is currently pursuing the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication’s Master of Advertising and Brand Responsibility degree and is one of 18 students enrolled in the second-year degree program.

Last season, Ionescu elected to return to Oregon for her senior season, and to continue her studies, despite likely being a top pick in the WNBA Draft. While hopes of a national championship were cut short due to the coronavirus outbreak and the NCAA’s decision to cancel winter championships, Ionescu still etched her name in the college basketball record books. This additional year at Oregon also enabled Ionescu to continue dedicating her time to uplift the community and serve as an extraordinary role model for young fans and athletes aspiring to play collegiate athletics.

“Sabrina Ionescu is an exceptional student-athlete that exemplifies all the qualities necessary for the Senior CLASS Award,” said Erik Miner, Executive Director of the Senior CLASS Award. “She has displayed great poise and determination by balancing her record-breaking performances on the court at Oregon with her classroom studies. Her strong character and involvement within the Eugene community has enabled Sabrina to be a true champion and well-deserving of this prestigious award. We offer our congratulations to Sabrina Ionescu and the University of Oregon.”

For more information on all the finalists, visit seniorCLASSaward.com.