WEST LAFAYETTE – Solidifying their names among the all-time greats of Holloway Gymnasium and Mackey Arena, Sherridan Atkinson and Carsen Edwards have been named Purdue’s Athletes of the Year for the 2018-19 school year. The two were selected by a vote of athletics department administrators from a pool of candidates made up of each sport’s Most Valuable Player or similar designee.
With the honor, Atkinson and Edwards will represent the Boilermakers in the voting for Big Ten Conference Athletes of the Year. The Big Ten awards will be voted on by a panel of conference media and announced by the conference office June 26. Dani Bunch, (track & field) was the last Purdue female to win Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year in 2014. Diver David Boudia was the Boilermakers’ last Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year winner in 2011.
Following a stellar junior season, Atkinson continued to create havoc for opposing defenses in 2018. A unanimous All-Big Ten first-team selection this season, she topped the Big Ten with 546 kills on the year, registering a career-best 4.20 kills per set average on 1,388 swings to earn a .296 hitting percentage. Her kill total ranked ninth in the NCAA and is the best performance by a Boilermaker in the last six years.
Pacing Atkinson’s offensive effort were nine 20-plus kill performances, including a career-high 32 kills against No. 4 Penn State. She also posted double-digit kill tallies in all but two of 31 matches this season and was the 17th Boilermaker in Purdue program history to notch 1,000 career kills. In Big Ten action, Atkinson averaged 4.26 kills per set, third-most in the league, while hitting at a .302 clip and adding 22 aces.
The California native wrapped up her career with her second All-America honor as a first-team selection, joining Ariel Turner, Stephanie Lynch, Marianne Smith and Danielle Cuttino one of five first-team All-Americans in program history.
Graduating in December, Atkinson joined former Purdue alumnae Danielle Cuttino, Annie Drews, Ashley Evans, Valerie Nichol and Azariah Stahl at the professional level, playing for Galatasaray in Turkey. Next season, she will continue her professional career with South Korea’s HiPass. Until then, Atkinson is vying for a chance to represent the United States in the 2019 Pan American Cup from July 4 to 15 in Lima, Peru. Currently a member of the U.S. training team, she most recently competed in a pair of friendly exhibition matches against Canada.
After turning in one of the top statistical seasons in Purdue history and leading the Boilermakers to the Big Ten regular-season championship and a spot in the Elite Eight, Edwards was named a consensus second-team All-American after being selected to all four All-American squads (AP, NABC, USBWA — second team; Sporting News — third team). The Texas native became Purdue’s first two-time All-American since Glenn Robinson in 1993 and 1994, while being named Purdue’s second consensus All-American in the last three years (Caleb Swanigan – 2017).
Concluding his collegiate career with a remarkable junior season, Edwards led the Big Ten and ranked ninth nationally in scoring at 24.3 points per game. He added 3.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game in 35.4 minutes per outing. Edwards shattered the Purdue and Big Ten record for most 3-pointers in a season with 135 (previous Purdue record was 100; previous Big Ten record was 120) and he became just the second player since the 1992-93 season with 850 points, 130 3-pointers, 100 assists and 40 steals (Davidson’s Stephen Curry twice) in the same season.
Edwards was at his best in the NCAA Tournament, averaging a jaw-dropping 34.8 points per game, scoring 42 points against both Villanova and Virginia. He was named the South Regional’s Most Outstanding Player after setting an NCAA Tournament record by making 28 3-pointers in the four games, including a school-record 10 triples against top-seeded Virginia in the South Regional finals. He became the first player since Davidson’s Curry in 2008 to be named the Most Outstanding Player of a regional from a losing team.
Edwards will to continue his success at the professional level, declaring for the NBA draft in April. Most mock drafts have the 2018 Jerry West Award winner going anywhere from 24 to 34, straddling the first and second round.