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Clayton State names first Hall of Fame class

Mason Barfield was Clayton State’s first men’s basketball coach and athletic director. (Special Photo)

Mason Barfield was Clayton State’s first men’s basketball coach and athletic director. (Special Photo)

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Nkiru Okosieme was a former All-American and Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year during her tenure at the school. (Special Photo)

MORROW — The voting is over and the results are in for the first Clayton State Sports Hall of Fame class.

The first class will include former athletic director Mason Barfield, former men’s soccer player Alex Dowling, former men’s basketball player Carlos Head and former women’s soccer player Nkiru Okosieme.

“We are very excited to be able to have a platform on which to now recognize those individuals who have meant so much in the success of Clayton State University Athletics,” athletic director Carl McAloose said.

The induction ceremonies for the initial class will be held Feb. 14 with the inductees also being recognized at the school’s homecoming game the next evening against Peach Belt Conference opponent Montevallo.

“This initial class of the Clayton State University Hall of Fame includes the architect of the department’s success, Mason Barfield, and three student-athletes who exemplify what a student-athlete is supposed to be,” McAloose said. “Alex, Carlos, and Nkiru competed not only at a national level in their sport but also excelled in the classroom while at Clayton State. All four of these inductees made huge impacts while at Clayton and certainly can be great role models for our current and future student-athletes.”

Here is a look at each of the inductees:

Mason Barfield

He is often referred to as the architect of the school’s athletic program. Barfield served as Clayton State’s first athletic director and men’s basketball coach. He laid the groundwork for the program, beginning in 1990 and oversaw and led the program for more than 20 years until his retirement in 2011. The University also recognized Barfield by naming the basketball floor at the Athletics Center in his honor in 2012.

Barfield helped transition the athletic program to the NCAA Division II level, which led to it joining the Peach Belt Conference.

Under his leadership from 2000 to 2011, Clayton State won 15 Peach Belt Conference regular season championships and finished conference runner-up on 12 occasions. In addition, Laker teams won eight Peach Belt tournament titles and finished as tournament runner-up four times, establishing Clayton State as an elite power in the league.

At the national level, Clayton State teams advanced to the NCAA Division II National Tournament 48 times during that span, including three “Final Four,” six “Elite Eight” and fourteen “Sweet 16” appearances. The culmination of that success was in 2011 when the Laker women’s basketball team captured the school’s first NCAA Division II national championship.

Alex Dowling

The South African native become one of the most decorated men’s soccer players in school history. He lettered four years, and was a two-time All-American and conference selection. A former team captain, the sweeper helped the Lakers rank among the best in defense in the nation.

He was part of three conference championship teams during his tenure.

Dowling was a recipient of Clayton State’s Laker Award in 2006, given to Clayton State’s top student-athlete each year. He graduated in 2006 with a 3.2 grade-point average and a bachelor’s degree in management.

Carlos Head

A Morrow native, he played on the first basketball team at the school, lettering four years. He still holds several school records.

Head is the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,682 points. He ranks second all-time in games played with 114 and third all-time in games started with 78. He ranks first all-time in field goals made with 608 and first in all-time in field goals attempted with 1,287. Carlos ranks second in 3-point field goals made with 132, third in all-time in rebounds with 523 and third all-time in steals with 125.

He led the Lakers to school’s first championship, the 1993-94 Georgia Athletic Conference Championship. He averaged over 18 points for the team that finished the season with a 25-7 record, Clayton State’s best record in men’s basketball. He was selected to the NAIA All-District All-Freshman team in 1990-01 and to the All-Georgia Athletic Conference Team in 1993-94.

Head graduated with a bachelor’s degree in management in 1995.

Nkiru Okosieme

A Nigerian native, she lettered three seasons for the women’s soccer team and was a one-time All-American. She was the Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year in 2004 and named all-conference all three years. She finished the 2001 season ranked second in the country in scoring with 33 goals on the year.

At Clayton State, Okosieme ranks second in single season scoring with 33 goals in 2001 and second in single season assists in 2004 with 10. She also ranks second all-time in goals scored at Clayton State with 64 and second all-time in assists with 24. She led the Lakers to their first NCAA Division II national tournament appearance in 2004.

Along with her standout career at Clayton State, Okosieme also played in four World Cups for her native country of Nigeria (1991, 1995, 1999, 2004). She scored three goals in her World Cup career, including a goal against the 1999 World Cup Champion U.S. squad.

Okosieme graduated with a bachelor’s degree in information technology with a 3.8 grade-point average and a master’s degree in health administration.