BYU, Lewis, UCLA players named finalists for 2020 Dain Blanton Diversity Award

Photo courtesy of UCLA athletics

A nationwide voting committee has selected BYU opposite Gabi Garcia Fernandez, UCLA middle attacker Daenan Gyimah and Lewis middle attacker Tyler Mitchem as finalists for the Dain Blanton Diversity Award.

The Dain Blanton Diversity Award, which is named after the former Pepperdine All-American and U.S. Olympian, recognizes the top NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball player during the regular season of a minority ethnicity.

Off the Block announced the finalists on Sunday and will unveil the award winner later this week as part of its College Men’s Volleyball National Awards Presentation.

Fernandez led the nation with a 0.92 aces per game average and had a career-high 56 aces — three more aces than service errors during the season. Among his top serving performances included a season-high eight aces in a sweep against No. 1/2 Hawai’i days before the remainder of the season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.


The MPSF Player of the Year also was in the nation’s top 15 with a 4.00 kills per game average and had a career-best .343 attack percentage.

Gyimah, who won the inaugural Dain Blanton Diversity Award last season, was sixth in the country with a .492 attack percentage. Despite missing part of the season with an injury, the senior had double-digit kills in nine matches and had a season-high 16 kills on a .625 attack percentage in a season finale upset victory against UC San Diego.

Mitchem finished the season fourth in the nation with a .505 attack percentage and had double-digit kills in 11 matches, including a stretch of having at least 10 kills in six straight matches while only committing a combined five errors. In addition, Mitchem was 11th in the nation averaging 1.12 blocks per game as he helped the Flyers end the shortened season in first place in the MIVA.

This is the only national award in college men’s volleyball created specifically to celebrate the outstanding individual performances of minority players. Players of all backgrounds have significantly contributed throughout the history of college men’s volleyball helping teams win NCAA champions and earning numerous All-American honors.

The voting committee for the Dain Blanton Diversity Award was comprised of 20 college men’s volleyball head coaches and volleyball media members from around the nation.

The top-three vote-getters were named finalists for this national award.

The Dain Blanton Diversity Award is one of several end of season awards presented by Off the Block. Among the other national awards includes the Lloy Ball Award to the nation’s top setter, the Karch Kiraly Award to the nation’s top outside attacker, the Bryan Ivie Award to the nation’s top opposite, the Erik Shoji Award to the nation’s top libero and the Ryan Millar Award to the nation’s top middle attacker.

Off the Block is a national award winning website that launched in 2011 and is the nation’s leader in college men’s volleyball coverage.