Wheaton College senior Aston Francis was already the frontrunner for the Jostens Trophy heading into the NCAA Division III Elite Eight last weekend. Putting up a tournament-record 62 points against Marietta College and leading his team to the Final Four was just icing on the cake.
On Tuesday it became official: Francis is this year’s Jostens Trophy winner, an award given to “outstanding student-athletes in Division III basketball for excellence in the classroom, on the court, and in their respective communities.”
Francis’s performance against Marietta was a D-III tournament record, and his third consecutive game scoring more than 40 points. He leads all NCAA D-III players in scoring with 33.9 points per game, 5.42 3-point field goals made per game, and 218 made free throws. Francis has already set the D-III record for points in a season (1,052) and is second all-time in 3-pointers made in a season (168). His 383 career threes stand as seventh-best in history.
“I am incredibly honored to receive the Jostens Award,” Francis said in a Twitter post. “I have to give God all the glory! I am so thankful for the blessings he has given me…”
God is good! Still more work to be done though. pic.twitter.com/xK2OUFg3wU
— Aston Francis (@astonfrancis2) March 12, 2019
Francis has come a long way since his freshman year at Tyler Junior College, where he averaged 4.5 points a game. He spent the following summer watching videos of Steph Curry and Larry Bird, refining his shooting form, and spending hours in the weight room and playing pickup games, refining new techniques.
“I think I got a lot better, trying to play against guys that were bigger, stronger, faster than I was,” Francis told D3Hoops.com. “I had to get used to making those moves quickly and in a game-like situation.”
Francis’s drive to improve has been contagious, inspiring his teammates to hit the weight room as well, practice harder, and bring Wheaton basketball back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014. Their impending Final Four appearance on Friday against UW-Oshkosh is the first in school history.
“He’s the hardest-working player I’ve ever coached and it’s not particularly close,” Wheaton coach Mike Schauer said, adding, “That is the part that I think people miss, is the caliber of young men on our team who are willing to sacrifice some of their own numbers to help him because he’s uniquely gifted and can help us. They’re constantly trying to find him, screen for him. They know.”
Francis has committed himself to off-the-court excellence as well, and is very active in his communities. According to Wheaton College president Dr. Philip Ryken, “In addition to his athletic accomplishments, Mr. Francis has a long record of working in disaster recovery in Texas, New Orleans and Arkansas. Both on and off the court, Aston Francis is a strong and consistent student-athlete with outstanding potential for future leadership.”
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