March 3, 2011
Rice University senior guard Cory Pflieger, who has had to overcome not one, but two season-ending injuries during his career at Rice, has been named one of 11 finalists for the eleventh annual V Foundation Comeback Award. The V Foundation for Cancer Research announced the finalists on Thursday.
The V Foundation Comeback Award is presented in conjunction with ESPN and the recipient will be announced during ESPN's basketball tournament coverage in early April.
The other finalists are: Jessica Breeland, North Carolina; Dawn Evans, James Madison; Jacki Gemelos, USC; Angel Goodrich, Kansas; Levi Knutson, Colorado; Andrea "Drey" Mingo, Purdue; Thomas Robinson, Kansas; Kim Rodgers, Maryland; Krystal Thomas, Duke; and Whitney Hand, Oklahoma.
The annual award is open to men and women collegiate basketball student-athletes in all divisions. It is awarded to an individual or team who has accomplished a personal triumph in the face of true adversity, be it in health, life or moral dilemma.
The award is presented in memory of Jim Valvano, the late basketball coach and ESPN commentator, whose personal battle with cancer inspired the creation of The V Foundation. In his memorable speech at ESPN's inaugural ESPY Awards announcing the creation of The V Foundation, Valvano's "Don't Give UP ... Don't Ever Give Up!"® motto created a legacy from which the Comeback Award was created.
"This year's finalists for The V Foundation Comeback Award truly exemplify courage and determination in the face of adversity," said V Foundation CEO Nick Valvano. "The nominees are exemplary young people who embody The V Foundation's "Don't Give Up" attitude."
Just five games into his junior season, Pflieger suffered a torn ankle ligament, ending his season. Heading into his senior year, he suffered a torn meniscus which required surgery and prevented him from playing. Weeks after surgery, he applied for an NCAA hardship waiver to possibly gain one final year of eligibility. Following a year of rehab, Pflieger has returned to provide leadership for the 2010-11 squad.
This year he is averaging 4.6 points and ranks third on the squad with 39 assists. He has also drawn 15 charges this season.
Over his career, Pflieger has made at least one three-pointer in 88 of 120 games played. He ranks among the program's all-time leaders with 168 three-pointers made.
The 2011 recipient will be selected by a six-member sub-committee of The V Foundation Board of Directors. Past recipients of the award are: Katie Douglas, Purdue (2001); Kristin Koetsier, Western Michigan (2002); Justin Allen, Arizona State (2003); Jamie Carey, Texas (2004); Kayla Burt, Washington (2005); Grant Dykstra, Western Washington (2006); the United States Military Academy Women's Basketball Team (2007); Nicole Hester, Drexel (2008); Tiffara Steward, Farmingdale State (2009); Dallas Blocker, Youngstown State (2010).