Eagle senior is one of 154 candidates nationally for one of 10 awards to be presented in February by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and Allstate
Because of his team's involvement with the C.H.A.M.P.S (College Headed and Making Progress) program at Whitman Elementary School in Spokane, senior Venky Jois from the Eastern Washington University men's basketball team is one of 154 nominees nationally for the NABC/Allstate Good Works Team.
The 10-player squad will be announced in February, and the distinguished award shines a spotlight on a select group of student-athletes who have shown dedication to community service and altruism in their communities.
Eastern student-athletes spend part of their time at Whitman with the entire student body, but a majority of their time is spent one-on-one with a fifth-grade student. The unique program follows each Whitman student for eight years through middle school and high school. Once a EWU student-athlete graduates, an incoming player will begin mentoring their student.
"CHAMPS is a very unique mentoring program that will help a young person from age 10 all the way up to college entrance," said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. "It involves our team being a mentor each step of the way. Venky has been a leader of this program and sees its value. He has been exemplary to his teammates on how to maximize the mentorship to bring success to these young people."
Jois, an Academic All-America candidate with a 3.51 grade point average as a pre-med student at EWU, has also been a part of several other team community projects. Those include Salvation Army backpacks and school supplies distribution; Salvation Army Christmas Eve meal for the homeless; participation in AAU Youth Basketball Day; food drive for the West Plains Food Bank; and campus move-in days.
He's a three-time member of the Big Sky Conference All-Academic Team, and three times has been honored on All-Big Sky Conference teams (2012-13 Freshman of the Year and all-league honorable mention; 2013-14 all-league honorable mention; 2014-15 all-league first team for a squad that won Big Sky regular season and tournament titles to advance to the NCAA Tournament). He is also the preseason choice for 2015-16 MVP honors in the Big Sky.
Jois and his Eagle teammates begin a three-game East Coast road trip on Wednesday night at Davidson in Davidson, N.C. The Eagles are 5-3 this season, with Jois averaging 13.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in the seven games he's played. He is ranked third in NCAA Division I in field goal percentage, having made 72.4 percent of his shots thus far.