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Video Highlights and Interview with Nick McDevitt

Watch Entire Press Conference (Facebook Live)

US Cellular Center Website

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – At a special press conference before a packed house in the Jan Davis Lobby at the US Cellular Center it was officially announced by the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission and the US Cellular Center that the Mountain Invitational would return on Dec. 17, 2017.

The 2017 Mountain Invitational will feature institutions from the Big South Conference and the Southern Conference. The event will tip off at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 17, with High Point taking on Wofford.

The Bulldogs will renew their Mountain Rivalry with Western Carolina at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 17, at the US Cellular Center.

"We are looking forward to the event on Dec. 17 at the U.S. Cellular Center," UNC Asheville men's basketball head coach Nick McDevitt said. "Not only does it allow us to continue our Mountain Rivalry series with Western Carolina, but we get to do so in a great facility where basketball fans in the area will get to enjoy two good games. I'd like to thank the coaches and administrators at each institution, as well as the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission for all of their hard work in helping make this event happen."
 
UNC Asheville Senior Administrator for University Enterprises and Director of Athletics Janet R. Cone has been working hard behind the scenes to make this event a reality.
 
"UNC Asheville is excited to showcase our successful men's basketball program in the Mountain Invitational doubleheader hosted by the U.S. Cellular Center and the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission," Cone said. "We are looking forward to playing on Dec. 17 in front of our hometown crowd."

Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission Executive Director Demp Bradford knows the Mountain Invitational is a great thing for Asheville.

"The Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission is proud to once again partner with the US Cellular Center and put together a great day of college basketball at the US Cellular Center," Bradford said. "We would like to thank Janet Cone for her perseverance in helping make this event a reality. This is a great opportunity to showcase the rivalry between the Bulldogs and the Catamounts and host a matchup between two excellent programs in High Point and Wofford. We hope that this will become an annual event to showcase college basketball at the US Cellular Center."

Tickets for the Mountain Invitational are on sale as of today. Tickets are $33.50 for courtside seats and $19.50 for reserved seats in sections 103-109 and 122-128. General admission in sections 101, 130 and all of the balcony are $12.50. Ages eight and under are free and do not need a ticket. Students ages nine and up may purchase tickets for $10 in all areas except courtside seats.

There is also a special VIP ticket available at a cost of $50. Seats are located in sections 122-124 and include access to a lounge catered with snacks, hot dogs, sliders and drinks (non-alcoholic). Two beer/wine vouchers are also included. A cash bar is available for additional alcoholic drinks.

All tickets include admission to both basketball games.

The Mountain Invitational games are not part of UNC Asheville's 2017-18 season ticket package.
 
To Purchase Mountain Invitational tickets: Tickets are available for purchase at the US Cellular Center Box Office, online at Ticketmaster.com or by telephone at 800-745-3000.
 
For Sponsorship Information: Please contact Chris Corl at ccorl@ashevillenc.gov or Demp Bradford at demp@ashevillesports.org
 
UNC Asheville men's basketball will start the 2017-18 season having collected back-to-back 20-win seasons and having made two straight postseason appearances with the Bulldogs playing in the 2016 NCAA Tournament and the 2017 CollegeInsider.com Tournament. 

The 2016-17 Bulldogs claimed a share of the Big South regular season championship and earned the second-most wins in program history in a season with 23. Asheville reached 20 wins faster than any other team in program history in 27 games. 

UNC Asheville is currently accepting deposits for season tickets, and fans can reserve their season ticket for only $50 per seat. The season ticket includes both men's and women's home regular season basketball games.

To purchase your tickets today, please visit HERE. The 2017-18 UNC Asheville men's basketball schedule can be viewed HERE.


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ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The preseason college basketball magazines have started to make their way on to the shelves and UNC Asheville men's basketball is heavily featured.

In fact, both the Lindy's Sports and Athlon Sports preseason college basketball magazines have the Bulldogs as the pick to win the Big South Conference.

In the Lindy's Sports preview they note that "Nick McDevitt has built a strong program in the N.C. mountains."

Lindy's Sports tabs senior guard Ahmad Thomas as the Big South Preseason Player of the Year, while sophomore guard MaCio Teague joins Thomas on the preseason All-Conference first-team in the publication.

In the Lindy's Sports Honor Roll for the Big South, UNC Asheville senior guard Kevin Vannatta is noted by the publication as the "best playmaker" in the league, while the reigning Big South Defensive Player of the Year in Thomas is said to be the best defender. Teague is tabbed by the publication as the "best NBA prospect" in the Big South.

In the player ratings in the Lindy's Sports preseason publication, Thomas is also listed as one of the top-25 shooting guards in the country at the No. 24 spot. Lindy's Sports notes, "the 18.0 scorer is a threat at both ends."

In the Athlon Sports preseason preview for the Big South in picking the Bulldogs to win the league they note "it's time to acknowledge alumnus coach Nick McDevitt as a mid-major monster who puts some bite in the Bulldogs each year no matter the circumstances."

Athlon Sports places both Thomas and Teague on the preseason All-Conference first-team as well.

UNC Asheville will start the 2017-18 season having collected back-to-back 20-win seasons and having made two straight postseason appearances with the Bulldogs playing in the 2016 NCAA Tournament and the 2017 CollegeInsider.com Tournament. 

The 2016-17 Bulldogs claimed a share of the Big South regular season championship and earned the second-most wins in program history in a season with 23. Asheville reached 20 wins faster than any other team in program history in 27 games. 

UNC Asheville is currently accepting deposits for season tickets, and fans can reserve their season ticket for only $50 per seat. The season ticket includes both men's and women's home regular season basketball games.

To purchase your tickets today, please visit HERE. The 2017-18 UNC Asheville men's basketball schedule can be viewed HERE.


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2017-18 UNC Asheville Men's Basketball Schedule

2017-18 UNC Asheville Men's Basketball Non-Conference Schedule

2017-18 Big South Men's Basketball Schedule

Big South Official Release

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The Big South Conference office officially unveiled the 2017-18 men's basketball schedule on Thursday, Sept. 7.

The league slate for Big South Conference regular season co-champion UNC Asheville men's basketball features 18 games in total with nine of the games set for the friendly confines of Kimmel Arena.

"The Big South Conference is always tough, and this year will be no different," UNC Asheville men's basketball head coach Nick McDevitt said. "We are looking forward to the challenge once again this season, and we know our non-conference schedule leading into league play will prepare us the right way."

The 2017-18 Big South Conference season for UNC Asheville men's basketball opens up strongly with the Bulldogs commencing league play against Campbell on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017.

UNC Asheville will enter the matchup against the Camels in the midst of a nine-game home winning streak. The Bulldogs closed out the regular season 13-1 last year at home. The Bulldogs have won 10 of their last 11 meetings with Campbell.

After the regular season-ending win over Liberty on Feb. 25, 2017, UNC Asheville is now 68-16 all-time at Kimmel Arena, including 48-10 in Big South Conference contests.

Last year the Bulldogs picked up their first regular season sweep of High Point since the 2011-12 season, and this year the first league game of the new year for the Bulldogs will see Asheville travel to High Point, N.C. on Wednesday, Jan. 3. The Bulldogs will then travel to Radford on Saturday, Jan. 6.

UNC Asheville will then have home matchups against Longwood (Jan. 9) and Charleston Southern (Jan. 15) with a road date in Clinton, S.C. against Presbyterian College (Jan. 12) in-between the two games at Kimmel Arena.

The Bulldogs will renew the premier rivalry in the Big South Conference on Thursday, Jan. 18, when UNC Asheville travels to Rock Hill, S.C. to face off against Winthrop.

A few days later, UNC Asheville will take on Liberty for the first time in the 2017-18 season. The Bulldogs have won 12 straight over the Flames.

The first "Battle of the Bulldogs" of the league season will see Asheville welcome Gardner-Webb on Wednesday, Jan. 24, to Kimmel Arena. The Bulldogs will then host High Point (Jan. 27) before opening the month of February by traveling to Buies Creek, N.C. to take on Campbell on Feb. 1.

The Blue Hose of Presbyterian College are scheduled to visit Kimmel Arena on Feb. 3 followed by the Bulldogs traveling to Farmville, Va. to face off against Longwood on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

UNC Asheville will close out the regular season with three of its last five league games at home at Kimmel Arena with Radford visiting on Saturday, Feb. 10, and Liberty set to tangle with the Bulldogs on Thursday, Feb. 15. The Bulldogs will then visit Charleston Southern on Sunday, Feb. 18.

The final regular season home game of the season for the Bulldogs will be a great one with Asheville set to host Winthrop for the first time at Kimmel Arena since last year's thrilling 104-101 double overtime win for the Bulldogs over the Eagles on national television on ESPNU on Feb. 9, 2017.

The Bulldogs will close out the 2017-18 regular season on the road on Saturday, Feb. 24, by visiting Gardner-Webb.

UNC Asheville will start the 2017-18 season having collected back-to-back 20-win seasons and having made two straight postseason appearances with the Bulldogs playing in the 2016 NCAA Tournament and the 2017 CollegeInsider.com Tournament. 

The 2016-17 Bulldogs earned the second-most wins in program history in a season with 23. Asheville reached 20 wins faster than any other team in program history in 27 games. 

UNC Asheville is currently accepting deposits for season tickets, and fans can reserve their season ticket for only $50 per seat. The season ticket includes both men's and women's home regular season basketball games.

To purchase your tickets today, please visit HERE. The 2017-18 UNC Asheville men's basketball schedule can be viewed HERE. Times and more information about the 2017-18 UNC Asheville men's basketball season will be announced as they become available.


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ASHEVILLE, N.C. – UNC Asheville men's basketball head coach Nick McDevitt has unveiled a challenging non-conference schedule that will prepare the Bulldogs for the rigors of the Big South Conference.

The Bulldogs will face off against seven teams in the non-conference portion of its schedule that played in the postseason last year.

"I'm really happy with how the 2017-18 non-conference schedule came together," McDevitt said. "We're obviously excited about being invited to participate in a prestigious early-season tournament like the NIT, but we're also looking forward to some regional games as well. Our schedule will certainly challenge us as we prepare for Big South play, and at the same time, it will give our fans a chance to see us play, both at home and on the road."

As released earlier this summer, UNC Asheville men's basketball will be one of the non-bracketed teams in the 2017 NIT Season Tip-Off along with Austin Peay, Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth and Oakland City.

The Bulldogs as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off will travel to Rhode Island (Nov. 10), Vanderbilt (Nov. 17) and Austin Peay (Nov. 19). The Bulldogs will play host to Monmouth on Nov. 22.

The regular season opener against Rhode Island on Friday, Nov. 10, will mark the second time that the Bulldogs have faced off against the Rams. The Bulldogs also took on the Rams as part of the NIT Season Tip Off in McDevitt's first season in charge of the program in the 2013-14 season.

In the middle of the games as part of the 2017 NIT Season Tip-Off, UNC Asheville will open its regular season home schedule by welcoming Lees-McRae to Kimmel Arena on Monday, Nov. 13.

Just a few days after the home opener, UNC Asheville will head to the Middle Tennessee area for its final two road games of the NIT Season Tip Off. The Bulldogs will first take on Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn. for the fourth time – and the first since 1996 – on Friday, Nov. 17, before two days later facing off against Austin Peay for the first time since 1979 on their home floor in Clarksville, Tenn. on Sunday, Nov. 19.

The Bulldogs will return home next to welcome former North Carolina standout and current Monmouth head coach King Rice to Kimmel Arena for their lone home game as part of the 2017 NIT Season Tip Off on Wednesday, Nov. 22.

The matchup against the Hawks is the first of three straight home games for the Bulldogs with UNC Asheville first welcoming Wofford to Kimmel Arena for a post-Thanksgiving treat at Kimmel Arena on Sunday, Nov. 26. The game will mark the 25th meeting between the two teams with UNC Asheville owning a 16-8 all-time series advantage over the Terriers.

UNC Asheville will then play host to USC Upstate a few days later on Wednesday, Nov. 29, at Kimmel Arena. The matchup will be the 16th all-time between the two programs in a series that dates back to the 1970's when USC Upstate was then known as USC Spartanburg. The Bulldogs picked up a 73-57 win over USC Upstate last season in Spartanburg, S.C. on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016.

The Bulldogs will open the month of December by traveling to the Upstate of South Carolina to battle Clemson of the ACC in the seventh all-time meeting between the programs.

Two days later, UNC Asheville will head back to the Upstate to take on Furman on Tuesday, Dec. 5. The matchup will be the 16th all-time between the two programs with Asheville last year taking a thrilling 64-58 victory behind 22 points from freshman All-American MaCio Teague.

The Bulldogs will play host to Milligan at Kimmel Arena on Sunday, Dec. 10, just one week before once again renewing the Mountain Rivalry with Western Carolina.

This year's Mountain Rivalry game will be contested at the US Cellular Center on Sunday, Dec. 17. The 2017 meeting will be the 51st all-time between the two rivals with the Bulldogs picking up a thrilling 59-57 win in last year's 50th meeting at Kimmel Arena on Dec. 17, 2016. More information about this special edition of the rivalry matchup will be available in the near future.

Two days later, UNC Asheville will hit the road to take on UNCG in Greensboro, N.C. on Tuesday, Dec. 19. 

The Bulldogs will close out the non-conference portion of their 2017-18 schedule on Friday, Dec. 22, by traveling to Moraga, Calif. to face off against perennial top-25 team and West Coast Conference power Saint Mary's.

The entire 2017-18 UNC Asheville men's basketball schedule will be released to the public in the near future. Times and more will be updated as they become available throughout the course of the days leading up the season.

The Bulldogs will commence the 2017-18 season having collected back-to-back 20-win seasons and having made two straight postseason appearances with the Bulldogs playing in the 2016 NCAA Tournament and the 2017 CollegeInsider.com Tournament. 

The 2016-17 Bulldogs earned the second-most wins in program history in a season with 23. Asheville reached 20 wins faster than any other team in program history in 27 games. 

UNC Asheville is currently accepting deposits for season tickets, and fans can reserve their season ticket for only $50 per seat. The season ticket includes both men's and women's home regular-season basketball games.

To purchase your tickets today, please visit HERE. The 2017-18 UNC Asheville men's basketball non-conference schedule can be viewed HERE.


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ASHEVILLE, N.C. – UNC Asheville men's basketball senior Ahmad Thomas has been ranked among the top-10 small forwards in mid-major college basketball by CBB Central.

Thomas is described by Kevin Sweeney of CBB Central as "one of my favorite players to watch in college basketball. He plays with such incredible energy and toughness, and is an elite perimeter defender. Not only that, but he has improved his offensive repertoire drastically as well to make him one of the top wings in the Big South and across the country. His improvement from the 3-pt arc a season ago was incredibly impressive and speaks to just how hard a worker Thomas is."

Listed as a guard by UNC Asheville, Thomas is one of many that Sweeney sees in mid-major college basketball that "spend significant time at multiple positions, whether it be guys on the small side who also see action at shooting guard or 'big wings' who are also deployed as small-ball 4's."

A first-team Big South All-Conference and NCAA Division I NABC District 3 selection, Thomas averaged 18.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 2.3 assists per game in the 2016-17 season. 

The 2016-17 Big South Conference Defensive Player of the Year will enter his senior season in the 2017-18 season with 1,098 points and 519 rebounds. The 56th player in Big South Conference history to score over 1,000 points and collect over 500 rebounds, Thomas with 189 steals in his career is nearing becoming just the sixth player in league history with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 steals. Thomas' 99 steals this season for the Bulldogs is a program record. 

Thomas finished last year fourth in the country in total steals with 99 and fifth in steals per game at 3.00. The junior do-it-all Thomas led the Big South Conference in field goal percentage at 54.4 percent shooting (243-of-447).

In addition to Thomas finding his way into the top-10, UNC Asheville's MaCio Teague just missed the cut of the top-10 at the shooting guard position according to CBB Central.

A first-team Big South Conference choice and NABC All-District 3 selection also, Teague finished his freshman season averaging 15.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

A Kyle Macy Freshmen All-America Team member, Teague ended his first year in a Bulldog uniform with 509 points to become just one of seven players in league history to record 500 or more points during their freshman season. At one point during Big South Conference play this past season, Teague connected on 29 consecutive free throw attempts. 

In putting together his Freshmen All-America season, Teague scored in double figures in 25 of UNC Asheville's 33 games. The Cincinnati, Ohio native scored 20 or more points in eight games.

In total, Teague finished in the top-10 in the Big South Conference in free throw percentage (second-88.6), field goal percentage (fourth-46.8), minutes played (fourth-34.1), three-point field goals made (sixth-70), scoring (seventh-15.4) and assists (ninth-2.7). 

The UNC Asheville men's basketball program picked up its sixth Big South Conference regular-season title in the 2016-17 season (1996-97, 1997-98, 2001-02, 2007-08, 2011-12 and 2016-17).

The Bulldogs will commence the 2017-18 season having collected back-to-back 20-win seasons and having made two straight postseason appearances with the Bulldogs playing in the 2016 NCAA Tournament and the 2017 CollegeInsider.com Tournament. 

The 2016-17 Bulldogs earned the second-most wins in program history in a season with 23. Asheville reached 20 wins faster than any other team in program history in 27 games. 

UNC Asheville is currently accepting deposits for season tickets, and fans can reserve their season ticket for only $50 per seat. The season ticket includes both men's and women's home regular-season basketball games.

To purchase your tickets today, please visit HERE. To see the entire CBB Central top-10, please click HERE.


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ASHEVILLE, N.C. – UNC Asheville men's basketball head coach Nick McDevitt recently announced the addition of LJ Thorpe to the 2017-18 men's basketball roster.

LJ Thorpe, Guard
6-foot-4, 215 Pounds
West Palm Beach, Fla. (Royal Palm Beach High School)

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The 6-foot-4 combo guard finished his senior season averaging 14.1 points, 7.2 assists and 6.7 rebounds per game. He had four triple-doubles.

For his efforts during his senior season, Thorpe was tabbed first-team All-Conference and All-Palm Beach County. He was chosen first-team All-Area by the Palm Beach Post. He was a Sun-Sentinel first-team All-County selection.

One year earlier as a junior, Thorpe averaged 13.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game.

Thorpe was tabbed first-team All-Area by the Palm Beach Post as a junior as well as first-team All-Conference and All-Palm Beach County. He was a second-team All-County choice by the Sun-Sentinel.

Thorpe joins a UNC Asheville men's basketball program that picked up their sixth Big South Conference regular-season title in the 2016-17 season (1996-97, 1997-98, 2001-02, 2007-08, 2011-12 and 2016-17).

The Bulldogs will commence the 2017-18 season having collected back-to-back 20-win seasons and having made two straight postseason appearances with the Bulldogs playing in the 2016 NCAA Tournament and the 2017 CollegeInsider.com Tournament. 

The 2016-17 Bulldogs earned the second-most wins in program history in a season with 23. Asheville reached 20 wins faster than any other team in program history in 27 games. 

UNC Asheville is currently accepting deposits for season tickets, and fans can reserve their season ticket for only $50 per seat. The season ticket includes both men's and women's home regular-season basketball games.

To purchase your tickets today, please visit HERE.


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BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Defending Big South Conference regular-season co-champion UNC Asheville men's basketball will participate in the 2017 NIT Season Tip-Off.

UNC Asheville will be one of the non-bracketed teams in the 2017 NIT Season Tip-Off along with Austin Peay, Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth and Oakland City.

The Bulldogs as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off will travel to Rhode Island (Nov. 10), Vanderbilt (Nov. 17) and Austin Peay (Nov. 19). The Bulldogs will play host to Monmouth on Nov. 22.

UNC Asheville will release full details of its non-conference schedule in the near future.

The UNC Asheville men's basketball program picked up their sixth Big South Conference regular-season title in the 2016-17 season (1996-97, 1997-98, 2001-02, 2007-08, 2011-12 and 2016-17).

The Bulldogs will commence the 2017-18 season having collected back-to-back 20-win seasons and having made two straight postseason appearances with the Bulldogs playing in the 2016 NCAA Tournament and the 2017 CollegeInsider.com Tournament. 

The 2016-17 Bulldogs earned the second-most wins in program history in a season with 23. Asheville reached 20 wins faster than any other team in program history in 27 games. 

UNC Asheville is currently accepting deposits for season tickets, and fans can reserve their season ticket for only $50 per seat. The season ticket includes both men's and women's home regular-season basketball games.

To purchase your tickets today, please visit HERE.

The NIT Season Tip-Off is one of 11 college basketball events owned and operated by ESPN Events, a division of ESPN.

About ESPN Events
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of 31 collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games; FCS opening-weekend game; 14 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 300-plus hours of programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 700,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and St. Petersburg, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.
 
ESPN Events also manages the Big 12 Corporate Partner Program.
 
Collegiate Football
AdvoCare Texas Kickoff (Houston); Bahamas Bowl (Nassau); Birmingham Bowl (Alabama); Boca Raton Bowl (Florida); Camping World Kickoff (Orlando, Fla.); Celebration Bowl (Atlanta); Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise); Frisco Bowl (Frisco, Texas); Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff (Montgomery, Ala.); Hawai'i Bowl (Honolulu); Las Vegas Bowl (Nevada); Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); MEAC/SWAC Challenge (Baton Rouge, La.); Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.); St. Petersburg Bowl (Florida); Texas Bowl (Houston); The Home Depot College Football Awards (Atlanta) and Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth)
 
Collegiate Basketball
AdvoCare Invitational (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); Armed Forces Classic (Ramstein Air Base, Germany); College Basketball Awards Presented by Wendy's (Los Angeles); Gildan Charleston Classic (South Carolina); Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Jimmy V Men's  Classic presented by Corona (New York City); Jimmy V Women's Classic presented by Corona (TBD); NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn, N.Y.); PK80 (Portland, Ore.); Puerto Rico Tip-Off (San Juan); State Farm Champions Classic (Chicago) and Wooden Legacy (Fullerton, Calif.)
 
For more information, visit the official websiteFacebookTwitter or YouTube pages.


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2016-17 Big South Presidential Honor Roll

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The UNC Asheville athletics department placed 72.11 percent of its eligible 190 student-athletes to the prestigious annual Big South Presidential Honor Roll for the 2016-17 academic year.

"Sometimes I think what our student-athletes are doing in the classroom is lost in all of the great things they are doing athletically for our University," UNC Asheville Director of Athletics Janet R. Cone said. "Their efforts athletically are just a small part of the story as these numbers show. We truly have student-athletes here at UNC Asheville that value and champion pursing greatness with their academic, athletic and lifelong goals."

The 2016-17 athletic year overall for UNC Asheville saw the Bulldogs excel in not only their respective sports, but also in their efforts in the community, and particularly, the classroom.

The proof is in the numbers.

During the fall of 2016, 70 percent (156 of 223) of the UNC Asheville student-athletes earned a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher during the semester. In addition, 73 Bulldog student-athletes finished the fall semester with a GPA of 3.5 or higher with 17 Asheville student-athletes collecting a perfect 4.0 GPA.

The combined GPA for the athletics department at UNC Asheville during the fall 2016 semester was an impressive 3.198.

The 2017 spring semester finished with the 211 Bulldog student-athletes enrolled for the semester closing out the academic year with a combined 3.315 grade-point average for the spring semester.

In fact, 77 percent (163 of 211) of the UNC Asheville student-athletes earned a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher during the 2017 spring semester to be placed on the Athletic Director's Honor Roll.

In addition, 76 UNC Asheville student-athletes concluded the spring semester with a GPA of 3.5 or higher to be placed on the Dean's List. A total of 21 Bulldog student-athletes claimed a spot on the Chancellor's List with a perfect 4.0 for the semester.

Overall for the 2016-17 athletic year, the combined GPA for UNC Asheville student-athletes was 3.247.

The core mission of UNC Asheville athletics is for its student-athletes to be not only champions in athletics, but also leaders in life, and a total of 42 Bulldog student-athletes (seven in December of 2016 and 35 in May of 2017) took complete advantage of their opportunity to thrive in their athletic and academic endeavors by officially graduating from the University during the 2016-17 athletic year.

UNC Asheville women's swimming competes in the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association and are not eligible for the Big South Conference Honor Roll, which is why the number of student-athletes is 190. Bulldog swimming is also extremely stout in the classroom though as the program garnered Scholar All-America Team honors from the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) for the 10th consecutive semester in late June.

In total, the Big South Conference placed 1,784 out of 2,986 student-athletes -- an all-time high of 59.75 percent -- on its prestigious annual Presidential Honor Roll for the 2016-17 academic year, it was announced Wednesday, Aug. 26, by Big South Conference Commissioner Kyle B. Kallander.

To be named to the Presidential Honor Roll, student-athletes must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) or better for the recently-completed academic year. The 59.75 percentage marks the third consecutive year above 50 percent.

High Point University led all Big South institutions for the third straight year, as HPU had 77.83 percent of its 230 student-athletes on the Presidential Honor Roll -- one of seven members to have at least 60 percent on the list. UNC Asheville placed just behind as noted with 72.11 percent of its 190 student-athletes on the list, while Gardner-Webb University had 67.13 percent of its 356 student-athletes among the honorees. Also surpassing the 60 percent threshold was Winthrop University (66.42%), Radford University (65.95%), Campbell University (63.74%) and Presbyterian College (63.54%).

In addition, 135 student-athletes achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA in 2016-17, and each of the Big South's 19 sponsored sports had at least one 4.0 student.

To learn more about UNC Asheville athletics, please visit uncabulldogs.com. For a sport-by-sport breakdown of total honorees and 4.0 student-athletes in each sport, visit www.BigSouthSports.com.


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"Faces of the Big South" Video

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – UNC Asheville senior guard Ahmad Thomas has been featured by the Big South Conference in their latest "Faces of the Big South" video series.

In the video, Thomas talks with the Big South about working with his mentor Kevin O'Connor through UNC Asheville's "Leaders for Leaders" program to assist the local Special Olympians in getting new gear before the start of the 2016-17 athletic year.

O'Connor and Thomas were matched up through the UNC Asheville Athletics "Leaders for Leaders" program, which pairs student-athletes with members of the Asheville community. According to O'Connor, this was the first flap of the wing in a true Butterfly Effect.

"One day we were having a conversation and Ahmad told me that he wanted to be an elementary school special needs teacher," said O'Connor. "I just couldn't believe that at his age he knew what he wanted and that he was already thinking about ways to serve his community."

But, this doesn't seem so out of the ordinary to Thomas.

"Wanting to work in special education is just something my heart grew into. Being around special needs individuals while I was younger and working with Special Olympics back in my hometown of Danville, Va. brought me so much joy. They are kids who have their own unique powers. I just want to help out, and let them know that they aren't different at all," said Thomas.

"When I started thinking about Ahmad's career plans, it challenged me to think about what I was doing to help others," O'Connor said.

So he reached out to Josh O'Connor (no relation) at the Special Olympics of Buncombe County and asked if there was a place where he could help. As fate would have it - they were looking for a basketball coach.

Kevin found his niche in coaching, but he didn't stop there.

"After seeing our Buncombe County athletes play the Hendersonville County Special Olympic team, it became apparent that our team was in need of some new uniforms. My first call was back to the main guy of this story, Ahmad Thomas, to ask him about what happens with old Asheville uniforms," said O'Connor.
 
The inquiry led to a meeting with UNC Asheville Athletic Director Janet R. Cone and women's basketball coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick, who in turn connected O'Connor with Adidas, who offered to help with the new uniforms.

"We were very excited about the opportunity to collaborate with The WCMA, The Special Olympics of Buncombe County, Adidas and First Team Sports to help create and host a wonderful experience for these young people. Our student-athletes are passionate about serving our community and it's especially rewarding to have the privilege to promote the game we love so much and share that energy with the Special Olympians," said Kirkpatrick.

From there, everything seemed to be falling into place. Thanks to a donation from the Walnut Cove Members' Association, who covered the cost of the team's new uniforms, Kevin and Ahmad's conversation seemed to create a whole new pattern of giving back to the community.

While O'Connor claims the first flap of the butterfly's wings was when he was connected with Thomas, Ahmad Thomas looks to Kevin's leadership as the pair continue to work together to serve Asheville's community.

"By seeing Kevin work hard with this program, and hearing how much he enjoys working with the athletes just makes me want to follow his lead and help out in anyway I can," said Thomas.

A first-team Big South All-Conference selection and NABC All-District selection in the 2016-17 season, Thomas averaged 18.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 2.3 assists per game.

The 2016-17 Big South Conference Defensive Player of the Year will enter his senior season in the 2017-18 season with 1,098 points and 519 rebounds. The 56th player in Big South Conference history to score over 1,000 points and collect over 500 rebounds, Thomas with 189 steals in his career is nearing becoming just the sixth player in league history with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 steals. Thomas' 99 steals this past season for the Bulldogs is a program record. 

Thomas and the UNC Asheville men's basketball program picked up their sixth Big South Conference regular-season title in the 2016-17 season (1996-97, 1997-98, 2001-02, 2007-08, 2011-12 and 2016-17).

The Bulldogs will commence the 2017-18 season having collected back-to-back 20-win seasons and having made two straight postseason appearances with the Bulldogs playing in the 2016 NCAA Tournament and the 2017 CollegeInsider.com Tournament. 

The 2016-17 Bulldogs earned the second-most wins in program history in a season with 23. Asheville reached 20 wins faster than any other team in program history in 27 games. 

UNC Asheville is currently accepting deposits for season tickets, and fans can reserve their season ticket for only $50 per seat. The season ticket includes both men's and women's home regular-season basketball games.

To purchase your tickets today, please visit HERE.

**Portions of this story are from feature originally published on UNCABulldogs.com on July 18, 2016 – Full Story Link**


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NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee 

INDIANAPOLIS - UNC Asheville men's basketball student-athlete Kevin Vannatta was very tentative at first, but going into his second year as a part of the NCAA Division I National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) that has definitely changed.
 
"After one year I've realized that it was one of my best decisions yet because of the relationships and network I'm building with student-athletes, athletic directors and commissioners across the country," Vannatta told UNCABulldogs.com.
 
UNC Asheville men's basketball head coach Nick McDevitt is extremely proud of Vannatta's efforts.
 
"Kevin possesses all the qualities that you look for in a great leader and he continues to strengthen those both on and off the court," McDevitt said. "He is clearly one of our team leaders, but he is also very active in a number of organizations, both on our campus and at a national level. He continues to make us very proud to call him one of our own."  
 
A rising senior guard for UNC Asheville men's basketball, Vannatta represents the Bulldogs and the over 4,000 Big South Conference student-athletes as part of the national SAAC.
 
"My role as a National SAAC member is to represent the student-athletes, for all sports, of the Big South Conference," Vannatta said. "I attend these meetings and then report back to our conference SAAC with the information, and that is where each Big South institution sends a member so that they can then take the information back to their campuses. They get feedback on any issue or discussion topic and then return that feedback to me, and I, while working with our commissioner, bring the Big South perspective to the table during our next conference call or in-person meeting."
 
The 2017-18 UNC Asheville SAAC President, Vannatta recently attended the NCAA Division I National SAAC meetings at the NCAA offices in Indianapolis.
 
Obviously, Vannatta cannot talk about all that the group is working on, but says "without going into any specific detail, our main focus right now is trying to tackle the transfer and early recruiting issues."
 
The whole experience overall has been a strong one for Vannatta.
 
"This experience has allowed me to hear so many different opinions and perspectives of what it is like to be a student-athlete around the country," Vannatta said. "It has allowed me to change my opinion on certain issues, and allowed me to develop even stronger feelings for others. The more I learn, the more I realize that there is so much more that is still out there for me to learn. It makes me eager to play the sport that I love because I see what hard work is going into providing the absolute best experience for student-athletes while they're in college. And when I'm finished, I hope that I have left the state of intercollegiate athletics in a better state than when I started."
 
Vannatta enters his senior season with the Bulldogs owning a 3.94 grade-point average as an Accounting major.

Vannatta was named to the 2016-17 College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District® 3 Men's Basketball first-team in addition to being tabbed as a DI-AAA ADA Scholar-Athlete and to the NABC Honors Court.

Last season, Vannatta played in all 33 games on the season, starting 32. He finished his junior campaign averaging 9.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and team-best and league fifth-best 3.3 assists per game. Vannatta's 110 assists on the year were also a career-best. Vannatta led the Big South in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.93). He enters his senior season with 913 career points.
 
Vannatta and the UNC Asheville men's basketball program picked up their sixth Big South Conference regular-season title in the 2016-17 season (1996-97, 1997-98, 2001-02, 2007-08, 2011-12 and 2016-17).

The Bulldogs will commence the 2017-18 season having collected back-to-back 20-win seasons and having made two straight postseason appearances with the Bulldogs playing in the 2016 NCAA Tournament and the 2017 CollegeInsider.com Tournament. 

The 2016-17 Bulldogs earned the second-most wins in program history in a season with 23. Asheville reached 20 wins faster than any other team in program history in 27 games. 

UNC Asheville is currently accepting deposits for season tickets, and fans can reserve their season ticket for only $50 per seat. The season ticket includes both men's and women's home regular-season basketball games.

To purchase your tickets today, please visit HERE.

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**Vannatta pictured with the NCAA Division I National SAAC**


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