Cowley College’s Jeff Nwankwo and Rossana Papa-Athlete Spotlight-Cowley College

Wrapping up storybook careers at Cowley College, sophomores Jeff Nwankwo and Rossana Papa were named the school’s Male and Female Athletes of the Year during the annual athletic banquet recently held inside W.S. Scott Auditorium.

Having reached tremendous heights as a member of the Cowley College men’s basketball team, Nwankwo came to Cowley as a transfer from Tulane University, where he was a member of the football team.

As a freshman at Cowley, the 6’6 forward missed most of the fall semester due to injury but returned to average 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in 16 contests. 

He returned to the team in 2023 after initially signing with NCAA Division I Marist University. The decision paid off as he was named the Player of the Year in the Jayhawk Conference and helped the Tiger basketball team finish as the conference runner-up and qualify for the national tournament. The Tigers advanced to the Sweet Sixteen before having their season come to an end with a record of 28-6.

Nwankwo averaged 18.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game and, with his 631 points, moved past Tiger Hall of Famer Kermit McMurry into ninth place on the single-season scoring list, just behind another Cowley great in Tyrus McGee. 

He recently signed a letter of intent to continue his academic and athletic career at the University of California.

Papa came to Cowley from Brescia, Italy. Having a stellar career in her home country, she continued her success at Cowley, where, as a freshman, she was named NJCAA First Team All-American, AVCA Second Team All-American, Volleyball Magazine All-American, First Team All-District, KJCCC First Team All-Conference, KJCCC Freshman of the Year, KJCCC Setter of the Year, and Five-time KJCCC Setter of the Week as she helped the Lady Tiger volleyball team finish as the national runner-up.

As a sophomore, Papa was named the NJCAA DII Player of the Year, NJCAA Player of the Tournament, NJCAA First Team All-American twice, AVCA First Team All-American, AVCA Second Team All-American, All-American, Plains A District First Team All-District twice, KJCCC First Team All-Conference twice, KJCCC Most Valuable Player, KJCCC Setter of the Year twice, and KJCCC Setter of the week multiple times.

She led Cowley to a national championship and a perfect 41-0 record. In her career, she only lost one match, the national championship match in 2021. Her career record at Cowley is 82-1.

For her career at Cowley, Papa recorded 3,075 career assists (second all-time in Cowley history), 180 service aces (all-time Cowley leader), and 565 digs.

She recently signed a letter of intent with NCAA Division I Missouri State University.