USBWA names Jim O'Connell Award, Rising Star winners

INDIANAPOLIS (USBWA) – The U.S. Basketball Writers Association is pleased to honor Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal with the Jim O’Connell Award for beat writing excellence, while Joel Lorenzi of the Omaha World-Herald and Cora Hall of the Knoxville News-Sentinel are the Rising Star winners in men’s and women’s basketball.

Grammer has covered University of New Mexico basketball for the Journal since 2012, where he has distinguished himself not only with his coverage of the Lobos but the Mountain West Conference. While comprehensively covering what might as well be a professional team in that market, Grammer has also been thrust into the disastrous season at New Mexico State, his alma mater.

Over the course of his career, he’s been an early adopter of beat tactics that are now commonplace, from podcasting to the use of advanced analytics to frame and develop stories. In 2022, he was named New Mexico Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.

The Jim O'Connell Award is named in honor of the longtime Associated Press basketball reporter who died in 2018 and is presented to a journalist who has demonstrated consistent outstanding reporting and meeting the USBWA's code of ethics while covering a college basketball beat. Grammer is the fourth winner of the annual award.

Lorenzi is the USBWA men's basketball Rising Star winner, which annually honors a college basketball reporter younger than 30. A native of Chicago and 2021 graduate of Missouri, Lorenzi is completing his first season covering Creighton athletics for the OWH and has received praise for the broad spectrum of his work, from game coverage to enterprise. Lorenzi was a member of the Sports Journalism Institute.

Hall is the USBWA women’s basketball Rising Star winner. Covering Tennessee, Hall regularly breaks news on one of the sport's highest-profile beats. A graduate of Ferris State University, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the Ferris State Torch, Hall was a member of the Sports Journalism Institute's class of 2021 and was an intern at the Kansas City Star.

The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball. It has selected an All-America team since the 1956-57 season. For more information on the USBWA and its award programs, contact executive director Malcolm Moran at 814-574-1485.