Canisius men’s basketball player Billy Baron and women’s lacrosse player Morgan Leonard were named the 2012-13 Canisius Male and Female Athletes of the Year, the school announced Monday night at its annual Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Awards Gala, held in the Montante Cultural Center.
The Athlete of the Year Award is the highest honor a student-athlete can receive at the College. Each of the school’s 17 varsity programs nominate one deserving candidate, and the school’s 400-plus student-athletes, coaches, administrators and support staff cast their votes through an online voting service.
Baron is the first men’s basketball player in school history to be named the Male Athlete of the Year, since the award started at the end of the 2000-01 academic year. A junior from East Greenwich, R.I., Baron led the Golden Griffins to a 20-14 overall record in 2012-13, the program’s seventh 20-win campaign in school history. A transfer from the University of Rhode Island, Baron averaged a team-high 17.2 points per game, which ranked third in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, and his 5.0 assists per game led the league. His 584 total points on the year are the most for a Canisius player in the last 28 seasons, and he was named the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major MVP and to the All-MAAC First Team as the Blue and Gold earned their first national postseason berth since 1996.
Leonard, a senior midfielder on the women’s lacrosse team, leads the team with 49 goals to go along with nine assists for 58 points, and she ranks first on the team with her 49 ground balls and 44 caused turnovers. A native of Sykesville, Md., the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year ranks second nationally with 2.75 caused turnovers per game, seventh with 3.06 ground balls per game and 17th in the country with 3.06 goals per game. A four-time MAAC Player of the Week honoree this season, Leonard is a key piece to the women’s lacrosse team that enters this weekend’s MAAC Women’s Lacrosse Championship in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., as the No. 1 seed after Canisius posted a record of 12-4 overall and 6-0 in conference play.Leonard is the second-straight women’s lacrosse player, and the third overall, to be named Female Athlete of the Year, joining Megan Oosting (2011-12) and Whitney Card (2005-06). Canisius is the two-time defending MAAC women’s lacrosse champions and the team will open its quest for a third-straight league crown Friday at 4:30 p.m. when the team meets fourth-seeded Siena.