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Laqwesha Gamble and James Otey amongst the 16 finalists for the 2012 Lowe's Senior Class Award

Hampton, VA (January 9, 2012) – The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) has announced the finalists for the fourth annual CIAA Division of the highly regarded Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award program.  Seniors LaQwesha Gamble (Winter Haven, FL) and James Otey (Roanoke, VA) will represent Johnson C. Smith University as the selections from the women’s and men’s basketball teams, respectively.

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the award program focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages those leaders to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact on their circle of influence.

“The CIAA is excited to highlight the contributions of our student-athletes in their community and the leadership skills they display in the classroom and on the court through this outstanding program by Lowe’s,” stated Dr. Mickey Burnim, chairman of the CIAA.

Gamble was selected as a JCSU Dean’s List Scholar last year. She has been described by her peers and the women’s basketball coaching staff. “Her leadership comes through from her vast athletic experiences,” says head coach Vanessa Taylor. “She is admired by teammates and she displays a true passion for the game. LaQwesha is consistently in preparation mode for the next opponent. As a motivator, she leads by example.”

Gamble volunteered her time and energy to assist with a Habitat for Humanity Charlotte project. She also participated in the 2011 Antawn Jamison’s March Madness Championship for Right Moves for Youth as a volunteer. Gamble has also joined the team for the Beatties Ford Library reopening project and Operation Christmas Child.

This season, Gamble continues to lead her team averaging 12.2 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. To this point she has started in all 11 games. Gamble is currently ranked 20th in the nation (NCAA DII) for rebounding.

Otey has assumed the leadership role as the only returning senior in the backcourt for men’s basketball. In his three seasons at JCSU, Otey has started 35 games. He has been an energetic, motivating team player prepared to perform in whatever role is assigned by the coaching staff.

He volunteered his time and energy with the team to assist with a Habitat for Humanity Charlotte project. Otey has also joined his team for the Beatties Ford Library reopening project. During the summer, Otey sacrifices some family time to volunteer as a counselor at the JCSU Summer Basketball Camps.

Otey has started in six of 11 games this season. He is averaging 7.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game. He is the last remaining guard from the 2009 CIAA Tournament championship team.

The remaining 2011-12 women’s finalists are: Juliette Turner (Bowie State University), Ransheda Jennings (Chowan University), SheQuita Manning (Fayetteville State University), Elicia Gilliam-Washington (Livingstone College), Keyona Bryant (Saint Augustine’s College), Allyssa Lane (Shaw University), Marquilla Evans (Virginia State University), Dashia Chandler (Virginia Union University) and Courtney Medley (Winston-Salem State University).

The other 2011-12 men’s finalists are: Darren Clark (Bowie State University), Lee Branscombe (Chowan University), Paul Goldsmith (Elizabeth City State University), Darrell Glass (Saint Augustine’s College) and James Shambley (Virginia State University)

“Lowe’s is proud to celebrate with the CIAA the superior contributions of its senior student-athletes in men’s and women’s basketball,” said Tom Lamb, Lowe’s senior vice president of marketing and advertising. “We want to congratulate all of the finalists from the CIAA’s member schools and commend them for their great character and for making an impact both on and off the court.”

The men’s and women’s winners will be determined through a voting process that runs concurrent with the basketball season and is divided into three categories: 1) online fan voting, 2) coaches, and 3) media. Each category accounts for one-third of the total vote. To vote: visit A link with both JCSU finalists is also provided on the men’s and women’s basketball section of the official athletic website,

Lowe’s, a sponsor of the CIAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament, will recognize the men’s and women’s basketball winners on Lowe’s Day at the CIAA Thursday, March 1, 2012, between the 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. games.


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