PROVO -- Senior forward Mekeli Wesley received one of the highest honors for athletic achievement Wednesday when he became the 56th recipient of the Dale Rex Memorial Award presented by the Cougar Club. The award was announced at the 2001 Cougar Club Athletic Awards Banquet.
As one of 14 student-athletes and two teams to be recognized at the annual banquet, Wesley garnered the evening's highest honor. Named after one of the greatest World War II heroes to ever come out of Utah, the Dale Rex Memorial Award is given annually to the individual thought by the Cougar Club to have contributed most to amateur athletics in the state of Utah.
University of Utah basketball coach Vadal Peterson received the inaugural Dale Rex Memorial Award in 1947. Other past honorees include Stan Watts, Merlin Olsen, David O. McKay, Johnny Miller, Phil Johnson, LaVell Edwards, Gifford Nielsen, Marc Wilson, Danny Ainge, Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Glen Tucket, Greg Marsden, Ty Detmer, Elaine Michaelis, Missy Marlowe and David Houle. A complete list is included below. Last year's recepient was BYU men's volleyball coach Carl McGown.
Wesley was not present to accept the award Wednesday because he was participating in the prestigious Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in Portsmouth, Va., featuring the nation's top seniors. BYU Head Basketball Coach Steve Cleveland accepted the award in his behalf.
Mekeli Wesley -- Dale Rex Memorial Award
Over the past four years, Mekeli Wesley has proven to be one of the most successful basketball players to compete at BYU. The 6-foot-9 senior capped his career this season by being named Mountain West Conference Player of the Year, MWC Tournament MVP and honorable mention Associated Press All-American.
Mekeli's achievements put him in select company in Provo. He joins Shawn Bradley (1991 WAC Tournament) as only the second Cougar to earn conference tournament MVP honors and is just the fifth BYU cager to be named conference player of the year, completing an all-star starting five that also includes Danny Ainge (WAC, 1981), Devin Durrant (WAC, 1983), Timo Saarelainen (WAC, 1985) and Michael Smith (WAC, 1988). Mekeli is the first BYU basketball player to earn AP All-America honors since Michael Smith in 1988.
As the only player to participate in each of the past four seasons, Mekeli has been commonly called the Founding Father of the BYU program under Steve Cleveland. Coach Cleveland has constructed his lineup each year around Mekeli to build from the 1-25 team he inherited before his and Wesley's arrival to the 24-9 team that earned an NCAA Tournament berth this season.
Mekeli finished his career ranked third all-time at BYU in free throw attempts and fourth in free throws made. He ranks seventh in field goals, field goal attempts and total points scored. He played in 115 games, starting all but three, shooting 46.5 percent (570-1,227) from the floor, 35.4 percent (91-257) from three-point range, and 78.2 percent (509-651) from the free throw line.
On his way to seventh place on BYU's all-time scoring list, Mekeli became only the eighth junior to score 1,000 points, despite missing part of his sophomore season. He finished his career with 1,740 points and a 15.1 scoring average. He also averaged 5.4 rebounds per game on his way to 617 career caroms.
Mekeli finished strong, scoring 1,125 points (17.0 ppg) over his final two seasons. Both his junior season (556 points, 16.8 ppg) and his senior campaign (569 points, 17.2 ppg) rate among the top 22 scoring seasons by a Cougar. Only five other Cougars (Devin Durrant, Michael Smith, Danny Ainge, Russell Larson, Jeff Chatman) have ever scored more points during their junior and senior seasons. During his final two years, Mekeli led BYU to a 46-20 record and two postseason tournament appearances.
Mekeli holds the BYU single-game free throw record, making 16 free throws as a freshman at UTEP. He scored 31 points in that game to help the Cougars complete a sweep of No. 15-ranked New Mexico and UTEP to qualify for the Western Athletic Conference Tournament. As a senior he was one miss away from equaling the BYU record for field goal percentage in a game (Kresimir Cosic, 12-12), going 11-12 from the floor while scoring 30 points vs. New Mexico to carry the Cougars to the Mountain West Conference Tournament Title.
His leadership on the court helped BYU achieve its team goals each season, reaching beyond the limitations many placed on him and his teammates. After working hard on his conditioning, weight training and skill development during this past offseason, Mekeli put himself in a position to lead BYU to its first conference championship since 1993, its first MWC Tournament title since 1992 and its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1995. The competitive leader on the court, a soft-spoken Mekeli has also been an example of maturity and responsibility off the court. A favorite quote of the media, the well-spoken team captain has always been courteous and accommodating to others despite the many demands for his time.
Before coming to BYU, Mekeli averaged 21.7 points and 10.8 rebounds at Provo High School. Born in Fiji, Mekeli was named after his father's friend, former BYU all-conference football lineman Mekeli Ieremia. A recreation management major, Mekeli is married to Montell McDonald and the proud father of their son, Keliano John.
Mekeli Wesley - Honors
Â• 2001 Dale Rex Memorial Award (Top Contributor to Amateur Athletics in Utah)
Â• 2001 Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American
Â• 2001 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year
Â• 2001 Mountain West Conference First Team
Â• 2001 Mountain West Conference Tournament MVP
Â• 2001 Mountain West Conference Player of the Week (two time winner)
Â• 2001 National Association of Basketball Coaches District 13 First Team
Â• 2000 National Association of Basketball Coaches District 13 Second Team
Â• 2000 Mountain West Conference Second Team
Â• 2000 Mountain West Conference Player of the Week
Â• 2000 Cougar Classic MVP
Â• 1998 Western Athletic Conference All-Newcomer Team
Â• 1998 Western Athletic Conference Player of the Week
Â• 1998 Cougar Classic MVP
Â• BYU record holder - 16 free throws in single game
Â• 3rd all-time in career free throw attempts
Â• 4th all-time in career free throw made
Â• 7th all-time in points scored, field goals and field goal attempts
Dale Rex Memorial Award Recipients:
Mekeli Wesley 2000-2001
Carl McGown 1999--2000
Patrick Shane 1998--1999
Tiffany Lott 1997--1998
Steve Sarkisian 1996--1997
David Houle 1995--1996
Lu Wallace 1994--1995
Elaine Michaelis 1993--1994
Missy Marlowe 1992--1993
Frank Fredericks 1991--1992
Ty Detmer 1990--1991
Ty Detmer 1989--1990
Dave Schulthess 1988--1989
Jeff Chatman 1987--1988
Jason Buck 1986--1987
Greg Marsden 1985--1986
Robbie Bosco 1984--1985
Steve Young 1983--1984
Glen Tuckett 1982--1983
Jim McMahon 1981--1982
Danny Ainge 1980--1981
Marc Wilson 1979--1980
Bobby Clampett 1978--1979
George Sluga 1977--1978
Gifford Nielsen 1976--1977
Karl Tucker 1975--1976
LaVell Edwards 1974--1975
Jim Spencer 1973--1974
Fred Davis 1972--1973
Stan Chynoweth 1971--1972
Ralph Mann 1970--1971
Bill Coltrin 1969--1970
Phil Johnson 1968--1969
Johnny Miller 1967--1968
Phil Odle 1967--1968
Virgil Carter 1966--1967
Steve Kramer 1965--1966
David O. McKay 1964--1965
Pete Witbeck 1963--1964
Eldon Fortie 1962--1963
Merlin Olsen 1961--1962
Gary Earnest 1960--1961
Cecil Baker 1959--1960
Bruce Larsen 1958--1959
Linn Rockwood 1957--1958
Fred "Buck" Dixon 1956--1957
Clarence Robison 1955--1956
J. H. Gardner 1954--1955
Glen Clark 1953--1954
Eddie Kimball 1952--1953
Ray Oliverson 1951--1952
Stan Watts 1950--1951
Joe Nelson 1949--1950
Dick Romney 1948--1949
Floyd Millet 1947--1948
Vadal Peterson 1946--1947