As the college basketball season steamrolls toward the NCAA men's and women's championship tournaments, the best players will be lauded for what they do on the court. The nation will be captivated by their athletic prowess throughout the games in March but will most likely overlook the fact that these athletes are, first and foremost, students. But every year, the College Sports Information Directors of America selects Academic All-America teams, made up of players who excel in the classroom and on the court. Following are the men's and women's first team CoSIDA Academic All-Americans. (Player statistics are current as of March 11, 2010.)
Men's First Team Academic All-America
Cole Aldrich, junior, center, University of Kansas (96th in the U.S. News rankings of national universities)
6 foot 11, 245 pounds
3.32 grade-point average
Major: communication studies
11.3 points per game
9.7 rebounds per game
3.5 blocks per game
Listen to Kansas's Cole Aldrich in U.S. News's Beyond the Hardwood 2010 podcast series
Aldrich was named the men's Academic All-American of the Year on the university level by CoSIDA for maintaining a high GPA and helping lead the Jayhawks to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and a Big 12 Conference title.
Tim Abromaitis, junior, forward, University of Notre Dame (20th in the U.S. News rankings of national universities)
6 foot 8, 235 pounds
.450 three-point shooting percentage
Abromaitis finished the regular season ranked fifth in the nation in three-point percentage. He matches his sharpshooting prowess with acumen in the classroom: He will finish his undergrad degree a year early and has been accepted into Notre Dame's postgraduate business program.
Patrick Foley, senior, guard, Columbia University (eighth in the U.S. News rankings of national universities)
6 foot 2, 185 pounds
2.4 assists per game
.421 three-point percentage
Foley, the lone entry to either Academic-All America team from the Ivy League, is Columbia's second-highest scorer and a team captain.
Matt Howard, junior, forward, Butler University (second in the U.S. News rankings of master's universities–Midwest)
6 foot 8, 230 pound
.500 field goal percentage
Howard popped in 14 points, tied for the team lead, in the Bulldogs' 35-point blowout of Wright State in the Horizon League Championship Game. He was a second-team Academic All-American last year.
Yves Mekongo, senior, forward, La Salle University (18th in the U.S. News rankings of master's universities–North)
6 foot 7, 220 pounds
Major: integrated science, business, and technology
In addition to being named an Academic All-American, Mekongo was the Atlantic 10 Men's Basketball Student-Athlete of the Year this season. He was a second team Academic All-American last year.
Women's First Team Academic All-America
Maya Moore, junior, forward, University of Connecticut (66th in the U.S. News rankings of national universities)
2.2 steals per game