Former Murray State News editor-in-chief Blake Sandlin earns award for in-depth Ja Morant profile

MURRAY, Ky. — Blake Sandlin, a senior at Murray State University and former editor-in-chief of The Murray State News, won a fifth-place Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker Award for Sports Feature Story of the Year.

The award, which is the Pulitzer Prize in collegiate journalism, was given at the National College Media Convention Nov. 2 in Washington, D.C.

Sandlin’s story, “Making Morant: Ja Morant’s ascent from small town kid to big stage star,” can be read here. The story chronicles the Murray State basketball superstar’s small town life in Dalzell, South Carolina, the hours spent perfecting his game with his father, Tee, how he would perform Michael Jackson songs to entertain his family at a young age and the story behind how the former Racer was accidentally discovered by a Murray State assistant coach. 

Sandlin, who hails from Calvert City, Kentucky, interviewed several of Morant’s family members and former basketball coaches to write about the personal side of the No. 2 overall NBA draft pick, a side many people don’t often see. 

Blake Sandlin, a senior at Murray State University and former editor-in-chief of The Murray State News, won a fifth-place Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker Award for Sports Feature Story of the Year.

“It was surreal to see how well my story performed at ACP this year,” Sandlin said. “Reading the other pieces from the nine other finalists, there were some really thorough and compelling feature stories from students at heralded journalism schools, so to be able to represent a smaller school in Murray State gave me a lot of pride.”

With Morant currently playing for the Memphis Grizzlies just three hours down the road, Sandlin is still able to cover the small town stand out, but this time on the nation’s biggest stage.

“Ja Morant is arguably one of the best basketball players to ever come out of Murray State, which brought national media attention to our small regional university here in western Kentucky,” said Dr. Stephanie Anderson, faculty adviser to The Murray State News. “Blake did an outstanding job capturing the true story of Ja Morant, something many news organizations were unable to do. I am incredibly proud of him and believe he truly deserved to win this award.”

Sandlin is currently working part-time as a sports reporter at WPSD Local 6, the NBC affiliate in Paducah, Kentucky, as well as finishing his journalism degree at Murray State. He will graduate in May 2020. 

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