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Hamilton’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander wins Golden Horseshoe Athlete of the Year

Oklahoma City Thunder's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging a career high 23.2 points per game entering the 2021 NBA All-Star break. AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been named the Golden Horseshoe Athlete of the Year for 2020.

The native of Hamilton beat out two other finalists for the 26th annual honour: PGA golfer Mackenzie Hughes and Forge FC captain Kyle Bekker.

In winning, 22-year-old Gilgeous-Alexander received the Bill Sturrup Award as part of the 36th annual Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) children’s fundraiser, a virtual event that was held Saturday night.

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He joins a list of past winners that includes Hamilton Tiger-Cats star Brandon Banks, basketball player Kia Nurse, hockey player Ryan Ellis and swimmer Joanne Malar.

The former CYO Crusader, who was also a finalist last year, started 70 of the Thunder’s 72 games last season and averaged 19 points per game, an impressive improvement from his rookie season with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Gilgeous-Alexander became the third-quickest player to score 2,000 points in Oklahoma City’s team history, doing so in his 100th game on Thursday night.

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Entering this weekend’s NBA All-Star break, the former Kentucky Wildcat is averaging a career-best 23.2 points per game while leading the Thunder to a 15-21 record.

Meanwhile, Bekker had a banner 2020 in captaining Hamilton’s Canadian Premier League team to a second consecutive national championship.

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The 30-year-old Oakville native was named the CPL Player of the Year after scoring a team-high three goals and added one assist while playing all 11 games during the league’s Island Games tournament in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

The former Canadian international and MLS player also led the CPL in minutes played by an attacking player in 2020 and was instrumental in helping Forge reach the CONCACAF League quarterfinals.

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Hughes, the Golden Horseshoe Athlete of the Year in 2013 and 2016, had arguably his best season on the PGA Tour in 2020, highlighted by a career-best 14th-place finish in the FedEx Cup standings.

The 30-year-old golfer from Dundas played in 22 tournaments last year and recorded four top-10 finishes, including a runner-up finish at the Honda Classic in March 2020.

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He was third at the Travelers Championship in June, where he shot a career-low round of 60 in the opening round, finished sixth at The Memorial three weeks later, and tied for tenth at the BMW Championship in August.

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Hughes earned just over $2 million in 2020.

The Bill Sturrup Award is named after the longtime CHML radio news and sports icon who was once the chair of the Golden Horseshoe Athlete of the Year Committee.

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