Tom Smart, Deseret News
Utah Valley Wolverines guard Holton Hunsaker (12) drives around Idaho Vandals guard Glen Dean (also a former University of Utah player) as Utah Valley University plays Idaho in the semi-finals of the WAC Men's basketball tournament Friday, March 14, 2014, in Las Vegas.

Utah Valley University basketball student-athlete Holton Hunsaker and University of Missouri-Kansas City State basketball student-athlete Eilise O’Connor have been named the 2013-14 Western Athletic Conference Stan Bates Award winners.

Named in honor of former WAC Commissioner Stan Bates, the annual award is given to the WAC’s top male and female scholar-athletes and recognizes the recipients’ athletic, academic and community accomplishments. The awards include a $3,000 postgraduate scholarship.

Hunsaker, from North Salt Lake City, Utah, earned his degree in May in accounting with a GPA of 3.88. He earned Academic All-WAC honors to go along with being named to the Capital One Academic All-America Second Team. Hunsaker was named the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

“Holton has been the consummate student-athlete and Wolverine during his career here at UVU,” Director of Athletics Vince Otoupal said. “His diligence to work hard in all facets of his life have allowed him, and will continue to allow him, to be extremely successful. This is a well-deserved honor.”

He was named to the All-WAC first team after leading the Wolverines in scoring with 14.2 points per game. He led the WAC in assists (4.2 per game) and free-throw percentage (.864). A four-year starter, Hunsaker helped Utah Valley to the WAC’s regular season title in its first year in the league.

During his career at Utah Valley, Hunsaker volunteered with the Boys and Girls Clubs, Habitat for Humanity, visited senior homes and assisted with youth groups and clinics.

“He is the hardest working practice player I have coached during my 37 years in the profession,” said Utah Valley head coach Dick Hunsaker, who is also Holton’s father. “He takes the same work ethic and competitive spirit to the classroom and understands the value of preparation and commitment.”

In addition to his accolades from the 2013-14 season, as a junior Hunsaker also was named the 2012-13 Great West Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year and selected to the DI-AAA-ADA Scholar-Athlete Team and Academic All-District. Hunsaker plans to pursue an MBA in the near future.

O’Connor, from San Francisco, California, earned a degree in health sciences in May and graduated with a GPA of 3.99. She was named an Academic All-WAC honoree this past season and was a first-team CoSIDA Academic All-American. O’Connor is also a NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipient.

In competition, O’Connor was named second team all-WAC after leading the league in scoring with 21.4 points per game. She became the first player in school history to finish with 1,700 points, 500 rebounds, 475 assists and 175 steals. She also set school records for minutes played, free throws made and free throws attempted. Her 1,777 career points and 479 career assists at UMKC are the second most in school history.

In addition to her stellar academics, O’Connor has volunteered at the Morning Glory Soup Kitchen, Boys and Girls Club, assisted with several basketball clinics at local schools and works with an organization called Operation Breakthrough that provides free health and dental care to underprivileged youth.

“Eilise’s worth ethic is unrivaled as she is one of the most competitive players I have ever coached,” UMKC basketball coach Marsha Frese said. “She is also the perfect example of what a student-athlete should be as she strives for excellence both on the court and in the classroom.”

O’Connor will attend UMKC’s dental school this fall.

Clint Burgi is the assistant athletic director for sports information at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit