CALGARY - Basketball players swept the Canadian university sport awards in keeping with the buzz the sport is creating in Canada.
Justine Colley of Saint Mary's University and Carleton's Philip Scrubb were named the BLG Award winners Monday as the top female and male athletes respectively in Canadian Interuniversity Sport.
With the Toronto Raptors in the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2008 and Toronto's Andrew Wiggins touted as a possible first overall pick in the NBA draft, Colley and Scrubb hope the momentum continues for hoops in Canada.
"There's a lot of excitement over basketball, which is pretty exciting since we're a pretty hockey dominant country," Colley said. "I hope more people get out to games, support all the different teams across Canada, obviously support the Raptors and hopefully they make it all the way to the final.
"It's amazing to see basketball starting to flourish in Canada."
Colley and Scrubb were just the second basketball players to sweep the BLG Awards in its 22-year history. Windsor's Jessica Clemençon and Carleton's Tyson Hinz — a Ravens teammate of Scrubb's for the past four seasons — were the 2011 winners.
"You see all the athletes down in the States playing in the NCAA tournament and the Raptors have finally made the playoffs and the CIS is really improving in terms of basketball as well, so I think people are starting to care a little bit more about basketball and they're recognizing our talent up here," said Scrubb.
Colley and Scrubb each received a $10,000 post-graduate scholarship. They were chosen by the Canadian Athletic Foundation, which administers the awards, from a group of eight finalists. Each nominee received a gold ring and a watch.
Colley from East Preston, N.S., took home the Jim Thompson Trophy that goes to the top female athlete and became the first athlete from Saint Mary's to win a BLG award.
"Huge honour for not only myself, but also my university," the 22-year-old guard said. "Tons of support goes into Saint Mary's athletics and not just Saint Mary's, but throughout the whole Atlantic area."
Other finalists for the Jim Thompson trophy were McGill hockey player Katia Clement-Heydra, York sprinter Khamica Bingham and University of British Columbia volleyball player Lisa Barclay.
Scrubb, from Richmond, B.C., claimed the male athlete's Doug Mitchell Trophy ahead of nominees Liam Heelis, a hockey player from Acadia, Bishop's football player Jordan Heather and University of Saskatchewan hockey player Derek Hulak.
Scrubb follows Hinz and Osvaldo Jeanty (2006) as BLG Award winners from Carleton. The Ravens captured their fourth straight CIS men's basketball title this year.
"Coming in, I was young and didn't really know what was going on, but I've learned from past teammates to be more unselfish and try and give back because they've all done so much for me at Carleton," Scrubb said.
"Overall, I think I've improved as a person and obviously basketball has helped has well."
Colley capped her fifth and final season as the all-time leading scorer in CIS women's basketball with 2,376 points. She scored 38 points in a semifinal win over Saskatchewan in the CIS championship en route to a silver medal for the Huskies.
Colley also earned her second straight CIS female player-of-the-year award averaging 20.8 points per game. She was a finalist for the Jim Thompson trophy last year.
"Her impact on our team and a basketball game go far beyond stats," Huskies coach Scott Munro said in a statement. "She is simply one of the best leaders I have ever been around. Her desire to compete and win separates her from any other student-athlete I have coached."
Colley played last summer for the national women's team that qualified for the world championship Sept 27 to October 5 in Turkey. She wants to wear the Maple Leaf again at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
"Olympics are on every athlete's radar," she said. "Next year, we would have to qualify for the Olympics on the national team and from there go on and play in Rio. Obviously I would love to be a part of that group."
Scrubb, a fourth-year commerce student, led the Ravens in points with (18.6) and assists (4.9) per game as the Carleton went 33-1 versus CIS opponents.
The six-foot-three guard was named the most valuable player in CIS men's basketball for the third time. When Carleton downed archrival Ottawa in the CIS final, the Ravens avenged their only loss of the season, which was to Ottawa in the OUA final.
Scrubb, 21, intends to return to Carleton and win another national title with the Ravens. He was the only university player invited to the national men's team camp last summer.
"His ability speaks for itself in his success," Carleton head coach Dave Smart said. "He is a humble and selfless individual regarding the team. He is an extremely good student, balancing his dedication to the team and sport with his academics."
CFL football player and Olympic bobsledder Jesse Lumsden, Olympic women's hockey team goaltender Kim St. Pierre, Olympic heptathlete Jessica Zelinka and Olympic swimmer Curtis Myden are among previous recipients of the awards, which are sponsored by the law firm Borden Ladner Gervais.
The Canadian Athletic Foundation that chooses the winners is a board of 21 business people from five Canadian cities. Doug Mitchell is chairman of that board.
Student-athletes must compete in CIS sport a minimum of two years to be eligible and can't be a previous recipient of a BLG Award.