Courtesy: Jason Kaufman/CMU Athletics
Menís Basketball Making the Grade in the Classroom
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – While working hard to get better individually and as a team on the court, the Central Michigan men’s basketball program has also been diligently hitting the books  while off the court, with successful results. 
CMU was one of only 19 NCAA Division I schools to receive the Team Academic Excellence Award from the National Association of Basketball Coaches, which recognizes outstanding academic achievement by a team with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better. Only two Mid-American Conference teams earned the honor, which is based on the academic standing during the 2012-13 season. This is the first year of the award.
“This accomplishment is a testament to the character of our players and demonstrates this program’s and Central Michigan’s commitment to upholding the truest definition of a student-athlete,” said CMU head coach Keno Davis. “I am proud of our team’s academic accomplishments and am excited to see what they will achieve athletically this season.”
That success has continued this year as following the summer session 11 of the 13 scholarship players currently on the roster attained a 3.0 GPA or higher, including six that were above a 3.5. Among that original group is standout sophomore guard Chris Fowler, who possesses a 3.43 GPA. Fowler broke the program’s freshman assist record and earned All-MAC Freshman Team honors last season and is expected to be the centerpiece of the CMU backcourt this season. Also performing well in the classroom are sophomore forwards Blake Hibbitts (3.61 GPA), who averaged 8.9 points per game a year ago and led CMU with 66 three-pointers, and John Simons (3.53 GPA), who topped the Chippewas in rebounds with 151 in 2012.
Forward Zach Saylor was one of 12 student-athletes named to the 2013 Men's Basketball Academic All-MAC Team, earning one of five honorable mention spots as voted by conference faculty athletic representatives. Saylor, who boasts a 3.40 GPA and is pursuing his master’s degree in sport administration, was granted a sixth-year of eligibility by the NCAA earlier this year and will back in the CMU front court this season.
The program’s academic success thus far this year continues a trend established last year.
At the 21st Central Michigan Annual Academic Excellence Banquet in April, six members of the men’s basketball team were honored for their achievements in the classroom. Kyle Randall, who played for the Sacramento Kings’ in the NBA Summer League in July, Austin Stewart, Saylor, Simons, Hibbitts and Fowler were recognized by the University and the CMU athletic department.
CMU officially began preparations for the 2013-14 season with the open of practice last Friday. The Chippewas will debut on Monday, Oct. 28 when they welcome Lake Superior State to McGuirk Arena for an exhibition contest. Central hosts six regular season home games before the month of December, allowing fans ample opportunity to get an early-season glimpse of the Chippewas’ exciting up-tempo style of play.
Central Michigan men’s basketball is on Twitter. Follow head coach Keno Davis (@CoachKenoDavis) and the program’s official Twitter account (@CMUMensBball) to get insider news and information and team updates. The Chippewas are also on Facebook at