Big West Players of the Year
Luke Nelson-Men’s Basketball
Despite seeing action in just 18 games on the year, senior guard Luke Nelson battled back from a hamstring injury to help the UC Irvine men’s basketball team finish first in Big West conference standings. Nelson played a pivotal role in the ‘Eaters return to the Big West title match for their bid to the NCAA Tournament, earning third all-tournament nod for his efforts.
In the opening round of the NIT tournament against Illinois State, Nelson scored 17 points, 15 of which came from downtown. While the loss to the Redbirds that evening would officially mark the end of Nelson’s collegiate career, the Worthing, England native became the first player in UCI program history to compete in the Reese’s Division I College All-Star Game at the NCAA Final Four in Phoenix, Arizona.
Registering six-20 point outings and averaging 16.9 points per game on 45.7 percent shooting from the floor and 43.2 percent from three, Nelson was named Big West Player of the Year to go along with his second consecutive first team all-conference nod.
At the end of March, the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) selected Nelson to the All-District 9 second team.
Nelson has set a high bar for future ‘Eaters, as he is the record holder in triples (258) and fourth all-time in points (1,531) and assists (415).
Mary Brooks-Women’s Water Polo
Junior utility Mary Brooks earned her second straight Big West Player of the Year honor, joining UCI alumna Jessy Cardey to become just the second women’s water polo player to do so in program history.
Brooks fired in 66 goals on the year, good to take fourth most for a single season in the ‘Eater record books. The Fresno, California native tied her career high in goals with six against UC Davis in the Big West Conference Semifinals. Brooks’ fantastic scoring outing marked the second most for a single game at UCI and most in a conference tournament game. She would go on to punch in four in the championship winning game against Long Beach State for 10 for the postseason tournament overall — the most the league has ever seen. For her dominant performance at the conference championships, Brooks was named the tournament’s MVP.
Brooks is slated to compete at the Kunshan Cup in China as a member of the USA Women’s National Team
David Kim-Men’s Golf
With eight top-10 finishes on the season for 12 total on his career, junior David Kim has had nothing short of a stellar 2016-2017 campaign.
Kim’s year really got going in the Cal Poly Shootout at the Cyprus Ridge Golf Course, a two-day event that held from April 18-19. Kim obtained medalist honors after finishing the second day of the event with a dominant seven-under 65 for a tournament total eight-under 208.
Kim was also the lone representative from UCI at the NCAA Regional, which took place at the Stanford Golf Course from May 15 to May 17. He would go on to post a two-over 212 for 20th among 13 competing schools and 10 individuals
The Fullerton native took his first ever Big West Player of the Year honor, becoming the first since former ‘Eater John Chin took the title — his third Big West Player of the Year honor — back in 2010.
Junior Keston Hiura closed out his collegiate career in stunning fashion, becoming the Big West Field Player of the Year along with his first team all-conference nod.
In his final game as an ‘Eater, Hiura went 5-5 to cap off his average at .442 and his on-base percentage at .567, which secured the definitive Division I national batting title to the Valencia, California native. His batting average shattered a 46-year old program record.
At the end of the year, Hiura was named a Golden Spikes Award Semifinalist and also received some recognition from Collegiate Baseball Newspaper as well as College Sports Madness, which rewarded Hiura with an All-American nod.
With his outstanding run at UCI, Hiura is expected to be selected in the first round of the MLB draft, which will take place on June 12.