March 24, 2009
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State and the University of Mississippi are well represented among the finalists for the Cellular South Bailey Howell and Peggy Gillom Trophies.
The awards, which go to the state''s top men''s and women''s college basketball players, will be presented at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in Jackson.
David Huertas and Terrico White of Ole Miss join MSU''s Jarvis Varnado as men''s finalists, while Alexis Rack of MSU, Bianca Thomas of Ole Miss, and Pauline Love of Southern Miss are the women''s final three.
Love was also a finalist for the Gillom Trophy in 2008.
Ole Miss might have double the number of finalists than MSU, but Varnado stands a good chance of blocking them both out.
"It''s an honor to be considered for this award with some real good players," Varnado said. "Terrico White is a young player who came to play in the SEC, and David is an experienced guard. Both of them are great shooters."
Varnado (12.9 points per game, 8.8 rebounds per game) led the nation in blocked shots (170) and was voted the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year by the league coaches. The junior center also was a first-team All-SEC selection by The Associated Press.
Huertas (18.1 ppg.) led Ole Miss in scoring and ranked fourth in the SEC in 3-point shooting (2.6 per game). The junior guard was a second-team Associated Press All-SEC pick, and was fifth in the conference in free-throw accuracy (81 percent).
White (13.7 ppg.) was voted SEC Newcomer of the Year and was a second-team All-SEC member by The Associated Press.
All three of the women''s finalists are juniors.
Rack (14.6 ppg.) and Thomas (16 ppg.) led their respective teams in scoring and were first-team All-SEC selections by the coaches and second-team All-SEC picks by The Associated Press.
Rack helped the Lady Bulldogs reach the second round of the NCAA tournament, while Thomas and the Lady Rebels have advanced to the third round of the WNIT.
MSU''s run ended Tuesday night with a 64-58 loss to Ohio State. Rack, who scored 19 points, set a new school record with 86 3-pointers.
Rack considers it an honor to be listed as a finalist for the Gillom Trophy and said many people have helped her get to this point.
"It is exciting for me and really a credit to my teammates, as this is as much a team award as an individual award," Rack said.
Love averaged 16 points and 10.5 rebounds and was the No. 2 rebounder for Conference USA. She made the All-Conference USA first team.
Anyone interested in purchasing tickets for the Howell-Trophy reception and presentation can call 1-800-280-FAME (3263).
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