Barnette named SAC male athlete of year

Wingate's Sean Barnette, a former basketball standout at Northwestern, has been named male athlete of the year in the South Atlantic Conference for the second straight year.

Barnette was an NCAA Division II All-American and the league's player of the year this season.

Wingate's Anna Atkinson was named female athlete of the year.

The awards are given annually to one male and one female student-athlete based on athletic performance in one or more sports, and the impact of that performance on the SAC and NCAA Division II.

"Sean is a great leader and a great ambassador for the Wingate University basketball program. He is an exceptional student-athlete," former Wingate men's basketball coach Parker Laketa says. "This recognition is a great capstone to an outstanding career."

Barnette, a senior guard/forward, led the conference in scoring at 21.2 points per game and rebounding at 9.8 per game. He finished his career as the all-time leading scorer in SAC and Wingate history with 2,324 points.

Barnette was a first team NCAA Division II All-American in 2008 after earning third team honors in 2007. He was named to the All-South Atlantic Region first team and was selected the 2008 South Atlantic Region Co-Player of the Year by Daktronics. Also, the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) picked Barnette for its All-South Atlantic Region first team.

He is the only male player in SAC history to score more than 2,000 points and was named the conference player of the year for the past two years. Barnette and his teammates compiled a 24-7, sharing the regular season title with Lenoir-Rhyne College.

Barnette had 35 career double-doubles, including 18 this season and scored in double figures in 70 consecutive games to finish his career.

The Bulldog men's basketball team made the best run in SAC men's basketball history in 2006-07. Wingate (25-9 overall, 11-5 SAC in 2006-07) won the SAC Tournament for the second consecutive season in 2007. The Bulldogs took the 2007 South Atlantic Regional title on their way to becoming the first SAC men's team to participate in an NCAA Division II Elite Eight event.

He is the first SAC male athlete to win the athlete of the year award twice.

"Sean will have an opportunity to play at the next level. We had several NBA scouts attend practice or games this season. They (the scouts) believe he has the tools to play professional basketball," said Laketa. "I hope Sean gets his opportunity to play professional basketball. There is no doubt he has earned the chance through his hard work and determination."

Atkinson, a junior from Marion, N.C., was named to the 2007-08 NCAA Division II women's basketball All-American third team and the league player of year. Atkinson led the Bulldogs with 14.8 points per game and 8.4 assists per game.