UCLA Trio Named to Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Top 20
FAIRFAX, Va. – UCLA student-athletes Natalie Chou, Shea Pitts and Kinsley Washington were named top-20 candidates for the 2022 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar of the Year award, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education announced Friday.
In addition to their athletic ability, the students named 2022 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars are students of color who have maintained a cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of at least 3.5, are at least sophomores academically, and have been active on their campuses or in their communities. Of the nearly 1,000 scholar-athletes nominated, one male and one female athlete will be selected as Sports Scholar of the Year.
Chou, a graduate student guard who joined the UCLA women's basketball program as a transfer from Baylor in 2019, became the 39th Bruin to join the 1,000-point club in February. Against San Jose State in December 2021, she set single-game career highs in points (31), 3-pointers made (six) and assists (11) and was subsequently named Pac-12 Player of the Week. Chou's 38 steals this season are most among Bruins.
Chou posted career-high averages of 9.9 points and 4.3 rebounds in 2020-21, earning a selection to the All-Pac-12 honorable mention team in the process.
For her work in the classroom, Chou claimed a spot on the 2020-21 Pac-12 Winter Academic Honor Roll. While at Baylor, she was named to the 2017-18 Academic All-Big 12 Second Team, as well as the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll for Fall 2017 and Spring 2018.
Chou recently co-founded and became president of Asian-American Athletes (AAA), a student-athlete group at UCLA. AAA strives to create an outlet for Asian-American Pacific Islander student-athletes to freely express themselves, process experiences, and interact with others who are and have faced similar feelings. The group seeks to inform and inspire the UCLA and greater LA community to promote a deeper understanding that leads to positive change.
Chou and her teammates have also helped raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer research at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital through Dribble for Victory Over Cancer (formerly Dribble for the Cure) and worked with Salvation Army to help families and children in need.
Redshirt senior Pitts, a reserve defensive back and linebacker and frequent special teams participant for the UCLA football team, also made the top-20 list in 2021. He saw action in six games during the 2021 season. In the Bruins' 62-33 win at USC, Pitts registered two total tackles, including a sack. He played in 28 of a possible 31 games throughout the three prior campaigns, making his biggest splash in 2019. Pitts logged 13 total tackles and two firsts – a forced fumble and a sack – that year.
The 2019 season additionally culminated in Pitts being named to the Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll for the first time. The conference previously announced All-Academic Teams, which Pitts received honorable mention to in 2018. The political science major has made the UCLA Athletic Director's Honor Roll on nine occasions since enrolling in Fall 2017, posting a GPA of at least 3.0 while passing 12 or more units over the course of each quarter.
Active in his campus and local communities, Pitts has frequently positioned himself to be a role model for children from the Los Angeles Unified School District. In February 2021, he, along with several teammates, encouraged students from 186th Street Elementary School to stay in school and attend college as part of "Super Bowl Spirit Day." Pitts was honored virtually by the Gardena, Calif. school for his annual involvement in the event. Later that year, he took on the role of mentor to a student-athlete from Crenshaw High School.
Pitts has given back in other ways, as well, helping to raise money for Court Appointed Special Advocates, the Los Angeles Blind Children's Center and victims of genocide in Myanmar through different on-campus endeavors.
Washington, a redshirt senior first baseman for the UCLA softball team, has been a fixture in the Bruins' infield and lineup in each of the past four seasons. This year, Washington is off to the best start of her career with a team-leading .425 batting average, 34 hits and a Pac-12-best 31 runs as the Bruins' leadoff hitter in their 27 games to open the season.
Washington was an integral member of the Bruins' 2019 NCAA champion team, driving in the walk-off run to defeat Oklahoma in game two of the Women's College World Series final. In 2021, Washington hauled in All-Pac-12 Defensive Team and All-Pac-12 Third Team plaudits.
She currently boasts a .343 career batting average, never dipping below .320 in her career, and has launched 11 career home runs, including a personal-best five homers so far in this season.
Washington has played a role in a bevy of community service activities during her five years in Westwood. She has volunteered with UCLA softball legend Natasha Watley and her nonprofit organization, the Natasha Watley Foundation, to help bring the sport of softball to historically marginalized communities.
Washington serves as UCLA softball's representative on the Bruin Athletic Council which is a leadership group that meets every three weeks throughout the academic year to offer input to UCLA's athletic administration regarding the student-athlete experience, programming ideas and needs, community outreach projects, as well as Pac-12 and NCAA legislation.
Washington has also volunteered for the nearby UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital.
On April 28, 2022, Diverse: Issues In Higher Education will publish its annual Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars special report edition. The 2022 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar of the Year semifinalists will be announced prior to publication date.
The top women (in alphabetical order) are:
• Bryanna Brown, Lincoln University, Basketball
• Natalie Chou, UCLA, Basketball
• Logan Eggleston, University of Texas at Austin, Volleyball
• Arianna Fisher, University of Missouri, Track/Cross Country
• Mia Gordon, Miami University, Field Hockey
• Sophie Jaques, Ohio State University, Ice Hockey
• Gabriela Leon, University of Louisville, Track/Cross Country
• Ivana Shah, University of Akron, Golf
• Cecily Stoute, University of Georgia, Soccer
• Kinsley Washington, UCLA, Softball
The top men (in alphabetical order) are:
• Trammell Anthony, Shenandoah University, Football & Track/Cross Country
• DeWayne Carter, Duke University, Football
• Nakobe Dean, University of Georgia, Football
• Andrei Duarte, Georgia State University, Tennis
• Jacob Haines, New York University, Swimming
• Isaiah Holmes, University of Miami, Track/Cross Country
• Tyler Johnson, Ohio State University, Track/Cross Country
• Aaron Mateo Olmos, Oregon State University, Wrestling
• Shea Pitts, UCLA, Football
• Jordan Wright, Vanderbilt University, Basketball