Kevin McCandless Named CAANJ Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Former Rutgers University-Newark men's volleyball standout Kevin McCandless was named the Collegiate Athletic Administrators of New Jersey (CAANJ) Division III Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year, it was announced Wednesday afternoon.
McCandless was an exceptional student-athlete at Rutgers-Newark, leading the men's volleyball program to two appearances in the NCAA Tournament while graduating with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.95-plus as a Computer Science major.
"It may sound cliché, but Kevin was a model student-athlete during his time as a member of our program and someone that past, present and future men's volleyball players can look up to," said Head Coach Pedro Trevino after the awards luncheon. "He succeeded at the highest level in the classroom and on the court, while also being a great leader and example for Rutgers-Newark men's volleyball and Rutgers-Newark as an institution. He could not be more deserving of this honor."
A native of Leesburg, Va., McCandless received the ELITE 90 award from the NCAA at the 2016 national tournament in Rochester, N.Y. The ELITE 90 recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The ELITE 90 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA's 90 championships.
McCandless was named the Rutgers-Newark male Scholar-Athlete of the Year for both 2014-15 and 2015-16, and he was a two-time Continental Volleyball Conference (CVC) All-Academic team selection.
"I would like to thank everyone from my coaches, athletic trainers, administrators and professors to my friends, family, classmates and of course, my teammates," McCandless said after receiving the award. "It was an incredible journey and a great ride in which I wouldn't change a thing, and I am incredibly proud to call Rutgers-Newark and New Jersey a home."
On the court, McCandless was a four-year standout, getting better with each season. His career culminated with him earning honorable mention All-America honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) as one of the top setters in the nation.
In 2015, McCandless ranked third in the nation in assists per set, backing that up with a ranking of sixth in 2016. For his career, he totaled 3,266 assists, dishing out 9.33 assists per set. He averaged 10.44 and 10.53 assists per set as a junior and senior, combining for 2,065 helpers in 58 total matches. An all-around performer, McCandless delivered 78 aces, 145 total blocks and 119 kills during his exceptional career.
McCandless was a two-time CVC all-league pick, earning the distinction as a junior and senior, also pocketing CVC All-Tournament accolades both years as well. In 2015, McCandless was the MVP of the CVC Tournament after helping propel the Scarlet Raiders to the conference crown in their first year as a member of the conference.
Under the guidance of McCandless and a remarkable group of veteran leadership, Rutgers-Newark men's volleyball went an incredible 46-14 over the last two seasons, earning national rankings at the end of each campaign and rising as high as No. 3 in the polls in 2016. The Scarlet Raiders finished '16 ranked as the No. 6 team in the nation after reaching the "Elite Eight" of the NCAA Tournament for a second-straight season. McCandless was also a member of the first-ever Rutgers-Newark athletic team to host a national tournament on Newark soil as the men's volleyball squad knocked off Endicott College in The Golden Dome in the opening round of the 2015 dance.
McCandless is the first Rutgers-Newark student-athlete to be named the CAANJ Division III Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The award is bestowed upon the top Division III Scholar-Athlete in the entire state of New Jersey and is based on academic success, athletic success and work in the community.