|Awarded for||Individuals associated with men's and women's college basketball who have demonstrated extraordinary courage in life|
|Presented by||United States Basketball Writers Association|
|Most recent||Men's: Terrence Hargrove, Saint Louis & Connor Odom, Utah State (2023)|
Women's: Angelique Francis, Little Rock (2023)
The USBWA Most Courageous Awards are two annual basketball awards given by the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) to figures associated with college basketball who, according to the organization, have "demonstrated extraordinary courage reflecting honor on the sport of amateur basketball." Since 2012, the women's version of the award has been named the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award in honor of the legendary Tennessee women's coach who received the award that year. Effective with the 2021 awards, the men's version is known as the Perry Wallace Most Courageous Award in honor of the Vanderbilt player who was the first African-American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference.
History and selection
The award was first presented in 1978, and was not initially restricted exclusively to college basketball, although every winner since 1980 has been associated with the college game in some manner. Through 2009, a single award was presented; starting in 2010, separate awards have been given for men's and women's college basketball. More than one individual can receive an award, with the most recent example being in 2023, when the men's award was presented to players Terrence Hargrove of Saint Louis and Connor Odom of Utah State. Traditionally, the winners receive their awards at the men's or women's Final Four (as applicable), although the awards can be presented earlier as circumstances dictate. The most notable exception was when the 2015 Summitt Award was presented to Lauren Hill at halftime of her first college game in November 2014, presumably so she would receive the award while alive (at the time, she was not expected to survive until the 2015 Final Four). Only the men's award was presented in 2021, but both awards were again presented in 2022.
Most honorees have been cited for courage as current or former college players. However, the list of recipients also includes coaches, the wife of a coach, two broadcasters, a referee, an athletic program staffer, the widow of a former player (recognized alongside her late husband), and three college basketball programs.
The award's bifurcation by sex or gender is not based on that of the recipient, but rather on whether the recipient was connected to the men's or women's game. In 2019, a woman received the men's award and a man received the women's award.
All affiliations listed were current at the time the award was presented. The "Notes" column indicates the situation that led the USBWA to present the award.
Single award (1978–2009)
All winners during this period were associated with men's basketball unless noted otherwise.
|1978||John Kratzer||William & Mary||Player||Cancer patient|
|1979||Bill Wanstrath||Batesville High School (Indiana)||Player||Played despite having only one arm|
|1980||Phil Scaffidi||Niagara||Player||Cancer patient|
|1981||Mark Alcorn||LSU||Player||Cancer patient|
|1982||John Flowers||Bowling Green||Player||Overcame "tremendous personal and physical problems"|
|1983||Ronnie Carr||Western Carolina||Player||Overcame serious complications of injuries in an auto accident|
|1984||Reggie Warford||Pittsburgh||Assistant coach||Rescued an elderly couple from a home fire|
|1985||Dennis Schlitt||Army||Player||Overcame a life-threatening illness|
|1986||Bob Wenzel||Jacksonville||Head coach||Recovered from emergency brain aneurysm surgery|
|1987||David Rivers||Notre Dame||Player||Recovered from serious injuries in an auto accident|
|1988||Steve Kerr||Arizona||Player||Overcame the murder of his father during his college career|
|1989||Landon Turner||Indiana||Former player||Played wheelchair basketball after being paralyzed in an auto accident|
|1990||Donald Taylor||UMass||Player||Went from homelessness to a Division I scholarship|
|1991||Eric Murdock||Providence||Player||Returned from an irregular heartbeat and many injuries|
|1992||Pete Pavia||N/A||Referee||Officiated college games while battling cancer for 13 years|
|1993||Jim Valvano||ESPN||Broadcaster and former
coach (Iona, NC State)
|Battled bone cancer|
|1994||Orlando Antigua||Pittsburgh||Player||Survived childhood in a difficult New York City neighborhood, including being shot in the head|
|1995||Nolan Richardson||Arkansas||Head coach||Overcame racial prejudice and the cancer death of his daughter during his career|
|1996||Cori Carson||Marymount (women's)||Player||Returned to play a year after receiving a liver transplant|
|1997||Wes Flanigan||Auburn||Player||Recovered from surgery to remove a malignant tumor from his arm|
|1998||Jacky Kabba||Seton Hall||Player||Went from war-torn Liberia to Division I basketball|
|1999||Eddie Shannon||Florida||Player||Played despite having only one eye since a middle school accident|
|2000||Nathan Binam||Oral Roberts||Player||Started despite losing the index finger of his shooting hand in an auto accident|
|2001||Entire program||Oklahoma State||Program||Dealt with the aftermath of a plane crash that killed 10 team members|
|2002||Jamel Bradley||South Carolina||Player||Played successfully despite 80% hearing loss|
|2003||Rayna DuBose||Virginia Tech (women's)||Former player||Survived an infection that led to the amputation of parts of all four limbs after her freshman season|
|2004||Trey Schwab||Marquette||Assistant coach||Coached despite suffering from a lung disease that eventually required a double lung transplant|
|2005||Grant Dykstra||Western Washington||Player||Played successfully despite having full use of only one arm|
|2006||Mike Sutton||Tennessee Tech||Head coach||Continued to coach despite Guillain–Barré syndrome|
|2007||Entire program||Duquesne||Program||Dealt with the aftermath of a summer 2006 shooting that left five players injured|
|2008||Josh Porter||LSU–Shreveport||Player||Returned from a major neck injury suffered during a November 2006 game|
|2009||Kelvin Davis||San Diego State||Player||Played while undergoing treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma|
Men's award (2010–present)
|2010||Dave Rose||BYU||Head coach||Returned from a battle with pancreatic cancer|
|2011||Arsalan Kazemi||Rice||Player||First Iranian-born Division I player, despite often-troubled U.S.–Iran relations|
|2012||Bernard James||Florida State||Player||Went from high school dropout to military veteran to Division I player|
|2013||Dick Kelley||Boston College||Sports information director||Continued to work despite suffering from ALS|
|2014||Dau Jok||Penn||Player||Went from war-torn South Sudan to the Ivy League|
|Dan Peters||Akron||Director of basketball operations||Worked while battling pancreatic cancer|
|2015||Austin Hatch||Michigan||Player||Survivor of two plane crashes that killed the rest of his immediate family, the second of which left him in a coma for two months|
|2016||Andrew & Samantha Smith||Butler||Former player and his widow||Battled what proved to be fatal non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia, and publicized need for bone marrow donors|
|2017||Bronson Koenig||Wisconsin||Player||Social activism surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline protests|
|2018||Sam Dowd||Idaho State||Player||Left homeless at age 13 due to his parents' addictions; also one of the shortest Division I men's players at 5'7"/1.70 m|
|2019||Ericka Downey||Northeastern State||Wife of coach||Donated a kidney to former Division I men's coach Billy Gillispie, whom she had never met before the surgery|
|2020||Sam Toney||New Jersey City||Player||Went from a childhood spent in roughly 50 foster homes to an NCAA Division III All-American|
|2021||Bluefield Rams||Bluefield College||Team||Protesting racial injustice, knelt before the national anthem before a game in defiance of orders from the college president|
|2022||Justin Hardy||Washington University in St. Louis||Players||Both averaged double figures in scoring for their respective teams while battling cancer (stomach cancer for Hardy, leukemia for Jones)|
|2023||Terrence Hargrove||Saint Louis||Players||Extensively advocated for players' mental health after personally experiencing mental health issues (depression for Hargrove, severe anxiety and OCD for Odom)|
|Connor Odom||Utah State|
Women's award (2010–present)
|2010||Tiffara Steward||Farmingdale State||Player||Believed to be the smallest college player ever (4'6"/1.37 m); survived premature birth, blind in one eye, more than 50% hearing loss, severe scoliosis|
|2011||Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir||Memphis||Player||Believed to be the first Division I women's player to wear Islamic coverings while playing|
|2012||Pat Summitt||Tennessee||Head coach||Publicly announced her diagnosis with early-onset dementia, and continued to coach in the 2011–12 season|
|2013||Beckie Francis||Oakland||Head coach||Publicly acknowledged being a victim of child sexual abuse by her father|
|2014||Kirsten Moore||Westmont||Head coach||Dealt with the unexpected death of her husband shortly before giving birth|
|2015||Lauren Hill||Mount St. Joseph||Player||Played while battling what proved to be a fatal brain tumor|
|2016||Danielle O'Banion||Kent State||Head coach||Survivor of stage 2 lymphoma|
|2017||Angel Elderkin||Appalachian State||Head coach||Continued to coach while undergoing treatment for stage 3 endometrial cancer|
|Holly Rowe||ESPN||Broadcaster||Continued to cover basketball while undergoing treatment for desmoplastic melanoma|
|2018||Avery Marz||Saint Joseph's||Player||Sidelined two seasons after suffering a stroke as a freshman at Saint Joseph's in 2014; returned to active playing duty in 2017–18|
|2019||David Six||Hampton||Head coach||Continued as head coach in 2018–19 despite suffering a stroke in the 2018 offseason|
|2020||Lauren Cox||Baylor||Players||Sisters who played while dealing with type 1 diabetes, with the older Lauren playing at an All-American level|
|Whitney Cox||Lubbock Christian|
|2022||Kendall Currence||Northeastern||Player||First-team all-conference player despite having undergone more than a dozen surgeries for a cleft lip, cleft palate, and multiple heart issues|
|2023||Angelique Francis||Little Rock||Player||Survived childhood physical abuse and multiple suicide attempts to establish a foundation that helps youth dealing with abuse|
- Winners through 2011: "Most Courageous Award". United States Basketball Writers Association. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
- "Most Courageous Award". United States Basketball Writers Association. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
- "Mount St. Joseph's Hill to Be Honored With Summitt Courage Award" (Press release). United States Basketball Writers Association. October 23, 2014. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
- "USBWA Names Men's Most Courageous Award in Honor of Perry Wallace" (Press release). United States Basketball Writers Association. February 19, 2021. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
- O'Neil, Dana (March 2012). "Most Courageous honors go to Summitt, Florida State's James". The Tipoff. United States Basketball Writers Association. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
- "Francis, Kelley to Receive USBWA's Most Courageous Awards" (Press release). United States Basketball Writers Association. February 21, 2013. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
- "Three Chosen to Receive USBWA's Most Courageous Awards" (Press release). United States Basketball Writers Association. February 20, 2014. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
- "Michigan's Hatch to Receive USBWA's Most Courageous Award" (Press release). United States Basketball Writers Association. February 16, 2015. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
- "USBWA Names Most Courageous Winners" (Press release). United States Basketball Writers Association. February 15, 2016. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
- Walters, Mike (March 2017). "Koenig's social activism is Most Courageous". The Tipoff. United States Basketball Writers Association. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
- "Idaho State's Dowd Selected as Most Courageous Award Winner" (Press release). United States Basketball Writers Association. February 19, 2018. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- Ryan, Shannon (January 2019). "Kidney donor Downey is Most Courageous". The Tipoff. United States Basketball Writers Association. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
- Karner, Matt (February 2020). "Toney's journey leads to Most Courageous Award". United States Basketball Writers Association. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
- Hale, David (March 2021). "Most Courageous Bluefield College's story matters". The Tipoff. United States Basketball Writers Association. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
- "Jones, Hardy to Receive Perry Wallace Most Courageous Award" (Press release). United States Basketball Writers Association. March 11, 2022. Retrieved March 12, 2022.
- "Hargrove, Odom to receive Perry Wallace Most Courageous Award" (Press release). United States Basketball Writers Association. February 28, 2023. Retrieved February 28, 2023.
- "Elderkin, Rowe to Receive Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award" (Press release). United States Basketball Writers Association. December 29, 2016. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
- "Marz Named 2018 Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award Recipient". sjuhawks.com. Retrieved 2017-12-19.
- Greenberg, Mel (January 2018). "Most Courageous Marz recovers from stroke". The Tipoff. United States Basketball Writers Association. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
- Greenberg, Mel (March 2019). "Hampton's Six, ACC's Finch earn women's honors". The Tipoff. United States Basketball Writers Association. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
- Greenberg, Mel (February 2020). "Most Courageous Cox sisters battle Type 1 diabetes". United States Basketball Writers Association. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
- "Northeastern's Currence to Receive Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award" (Press release). United States Basketball Writers Association. March 11, 2022. Retrieved March 12, 2022.
- "Little Rock's Francis to receive Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award" (Press release). United States Basketball Writers Association. February 23, 2023. Retrieved February 28, 2023.
- Walsh, Patrick T. (March 6, 2021). "Basketball Saved My Life". Little Rock Trojans. Retrieved February 28, 2023.