MACON, Ga. – Mercer men's basketball senior Jakob Gollon is one of 30 candidates for the 2014 Senior CLASS award, as revealed Tuesday afternoon. The award is the nation's premier award for NCAA senior student-athletes and represents the acronym Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School.
To be eligible for the award, student athletes must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition.
Gollon joins 29 other candidates on the list that will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season. The ballot of 10 finalists will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one male candidate and one female candidate who best exemplify excellence in the four areas of excellence.
"We have a tremendous senior class and all of them are worthy of this type of recognition, but Jake has done an outstanding job on the floor and off the floor making a difference," Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman said. "I'm blessed to get to coach him every day and seeing him grow into the man he's become has been rewarding."
The Senior CLASS award winners will be announced during the 2014 NCAA Men's Final Four and NCAA Women's Final Four. Click here to see Gollon's Senior CLASS Player Card.
Gollon is currently pursuing a graduate degree in educational leadership and holds a 3.888 GPA. In his first two years at Mercer, Gollon was injured and received medical hardships from the NCAA. He was granted a sixth-year waiver, therefore the 2013-14 season will be his final year of eligibility. During that time, he's completed his bachelor's coursework in communications and will complete his master's degree in December. He'll start PhD coursework for a degree in Educational Leadership in the spring semester.
As a part of his graduate coursework, he's teaching an educational leadership class to undergraduates, focusing on the importance of finding a way to use your role in the community to impact the lives of others. Last year, he was a Capital One Academic All-District IV first team selection and also named to the Atlantic Sun Academic All-Conference team. In each collegiate season, Gollon has been named to the A-Sun academic honor roll for maintaining a GPA of 3.0 or above.
Despite being sidelined in his first two seasons, Gollon maintained an outstanding work ethic and determination to get back on the court. He battled through an injury-plagued start to his career and become one of the team's most consistent players, starting 74 straight games. He's also become the unofficial spokesperson for the team, eagerly grabbing the microphone whenever the team gets the opportunity to speak in front of a crowd. He's also taken his public speaking to the Lion's Club, where he's been a keynote speaker.
In what little free time he allows himself, Gollon writes a column entitled "Gollon's Journal" for his hometown paper, the Stevens Point Journal (Wisconsin). The column details the daily life of a student-athlete from an inside perspective. The idea behind the series is to provide insight about the benefits of sports and encourage young people in his home community to get involved in extracurricular activities.
Gollon was a member of the 2012-13 Allstate Good Works team and recognized in an on-court ceremony during the Final Four in Atlanta. His inclusion on the Good Works team was a celebration of numerous community outreach projects he's pioneered.
He's been a part of numerous community service initiatives, becoming a welcome face in the local school system and the community. With young students, Gollon jumps at the opportunity to participate in reading marathons - and with older students, he's visited several classes to speak about the importance of test prepping. In the community, Gollon is an active member of Rebuilding Macon, a foundation created to help rehabilitate the houses of low-income and elderly homeowners. In similar efforts, he's taken part in Macon Impact, a yearly community service drive that focuses on rebuilding the Macon community while also organizing food and blood drives. He's also partnered with Pastor James Moore, who mentors a group of children by offering friendship and helping with education.
This past summer, Gollon partnered with teammate Kevin Canevari to host a leadership camp for local youths on campus. Gollon arranged meals and housing for adolescents who visited the Macon campus for a few days. During their stay, the attendees were treated to guest speakers, campus tours and team building activities – all arranged and secured by Gollon.
While balancing all of these endeavors, Gollon still manages to play a standout role on the court. He's started the last 74 games for the team and helped the Bears to a 51-23 record during that stretch. He was a key contributor to the program's first outright claim to the Atlantic Sun regular season championship in 2012-13. In the past two years, Gollon has led the team deep into March with the CollegeInsider.com Tournament Championship in 2012 and advancement to the National Invitation Tournament Round of 16 last year. He's also helped solidify Mercer as a giant killer, with wins at Tennessee, Alabama, Florida state and Georgia Tech in the last three seasons. Prior to last season, he was named a Preseason All-Atlantic Sun Conference selection and captain of the team after finishing his junior year ranked among the top-11 A-Sun players in rebounds per game, assists per game, steals per game and assist-to-turnover ratio. Last year, he led the team in rebounding and scored 10 or more 18 times, including 10 points, six rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block in the team's win at Alabama on December 22, 2012.