Gradinjan Earns DI-AAA Athletics Directors Association Award

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Taylor Gradinjan continued a long line of program success by earning a spot on the prestigious DI-AAA Athletics Directors Association (ADA) scholar-athlete team. In doing so, she becomes one of just 10 females across the nation to earn the honor.

Gradinjan's (Cudahy, Wis./Cudahy HS) recognition represents the eighth consecutive year that an FGCU women's basketball student-athlete has earned a spot on the team. Previous DI-AAA ADA scholar-athlete team members to wear the Green and Blue include Jordin Alexander (2017), Stephanie Haas (2015, 2016), Sarah Hansen (2012, 2013, 2014) and Courtney Chihil (2011, 2012). In addition to that, Jenna Cobb won a post-graduate scholarship in 2015.

"Taylor has really excelled on the court and in the classroom," FGCU head coach Karl Smesko said. "It is great to see her earn such a prestigious honor as she is a wonderful person with a bright future ahead of her."

Each member of the scholar-athlete team is required to have a minimum GPA of 3.20 (on a 4.00 scale) while being a starter or important reserve with legitimate athletic credentials. To be eligible for nomination to the scholar-athlete team, a student-athlete must have reached junior academic standing at his/her institution.

As a senior, Gradinjan led the best 3-point shooting team in program history in 3-point field goals made (89) and attempted (230), while shooting a third-best .387 from long range. The sixth-year senior averaged 9.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists while starting 35 games. The program's all-time leader in career games played (148) also concluded her career sixth in points (1,237), fifth in field goals made (425) and attempted (1,058), second in 3-point field goals made (300) and attempted (804), eighth in 3-point field goal percentage (.373), eighth in rebounds (498), 16th in assists (177), 12th in steals (114), second in game started (126) and second in minutes played (3,768).

Away from the court, Gradinjan overcame two ACL injuries to open her career, graduated magna cum laude with a 3.78 undergraduate GPA in exercise science and compiled a 4.00 graduate GPA in health science. She is a three-time ASUN All-Academic Team member, and she landed a spot on CoSIDA's Academic All-District team as a junior. The three-time FGCU scholar-athlete of the month was also a two-time team captain and led the Green and Blue to a 122-26 record in her 148 career games.

"When I tore my ACL the second time, I didn't stop and hang up my jersey because I not only needed to see my team triumph, but I wanted to lead the way," Gradinjansaid. "Life and leadership are all about rising to the challenges that mark our paths. Many of the lessons you learn as a student-athlete such as patience, time management, work ethic, etc. can be applied to much more than the sphere of the sport. Basketball gave me vision not only for the game, but for life. With the attributes I have learned, I know I am capable of making my visions become a reality."
 
Behind Gradinjan's leadership, FGCU finished 31-5 overall in 2017-18 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, where the Eagles knocked off Missouri in the first round and advanced to the second round for just the second time in program history. They captured the eighth ASUN regular season championship in program history and claimed a fifth ASUN tournament title. The Green and Blue earned the No. 1 ranking in both the CollegeInsider.com and espnW mid-major polls during the season and concluded the year No. 25 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. 

"We are extremely proud of Taylor being recognized with this high honor," FGCU Director of Athletics Ken Kavanagh said. "Like her fellow Eagle predecessors, Courtney, Sarah, Jordin and Stephanie, Taylor epitomizes the definition of scholar-athlete and her significant contributions on and off the floor will certainly be missed."
 
WOMEN'S DI-AAA ADA SCHOLAR-ATHLETE TEAM
Name (Institution) GPA and major

Lindsey Abed (University of Hartford) 3.61 GPA in psychology
Taylor Gradinjan (FGCU) 4.00 GPA in exercise science
Mart'e Grays (DePaul University) 3.29 GPA in sociology
Kamila Hoskova (Rider University) 3.86 GPA in math and economics
Jackie Kemph (Saint Louis University) 3.76 GPA in accounting
Brittany Mbamalu (Texas A&M - Corpus Christi) 3.60 GPA in public administration
Sally McCabe (Belmont University) 3.86 GPA in psychology
Victoria Rampado (Niagara University) 3.59 GPA in education
Chandler Smith (Gonzaga University) 3.94 GPA in marketing
Kylee Smith (Belmont University) 3.92 GPA in business administration
 
Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Kylee Smith, Belmont University
Postgraduate Scholarship Recipient: Kylee Smith (Belmont University)
 
ABOUT DIVISION I-AAA ADA
Now in its 17th year, the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association's mission is to enhance initiatives common to its Division I-AAA membership (the Division I institutions that do not sponsor football), in particular, aspects related to their flagship basketball programs. For more information on the Division I-AAA ADA, please visit www.div1aaa-ada.com. The Division I-AAA ADA is administered by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), which is in its 53rd year. For more information on NACDA and the 17 professional associations that fall under its umbrella, please visit www.nacda.com.

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