Ole Miss Center Sebastian Saiz, Mississippi State’s Victoria Vivians Win 2017 Awards as Magnolia State’s Top Male, Female College Basketball Players
Vivians first three-time winner of C Spire Gillom Trophy; Five straight C Spire Howell Trophy selections for Ole Miss
Jackson, Miss., (March 7, 2017) – University of Mississippi center Sebastian Saiz and Mississippi State guard Victoria Vivians won the 2017 C Spire Howell and Gillom Trophies Monday, which annually honor the state’s best male and female college basketball players during the season.
Saiz and Vivians received the awards at a special luncheon convened by the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum and C Spire and attended by coaches, fans and other special guests. A select group of print and television news media reporters and editors who cover college basketball in Mississippi chose all finalists and award winners.
The 6-foot-9 senior from Madrid, Spain and the SEC’s leading rebounder continued Ole Miss’ dominance with his selection over two other players – two-time finalist Quinndary Weatherspoon of Mississippi State and Delta State’s Devin Schmidt. An Ole Miss player has won the award each of the last five seasons.
Saiz finished the season ranked 7th in the nation in rebounding with 10.8 boards a game and was the second-leading scorer, averaging 15.1 points a game. He is the SEC’s active career rebounding leader and is third all-time for Ole Miss with 913 rebounds and the first player in school history with 1,000 points, 900 rebounds and 100 blocked shots.
Vivians, a 6-foot-1 junior guard from Carthage, Miss., led the No. 7-ranked Lady Bulldogs to the SEC conference championship game and was the league’s fifth leading scorer at 17.2 points a game this year. She bested teammate Morgan William and Southern Miss’ Brittany Dinkins to become the first three time winner of the trophy named after former Ole Miss great Peggy Gillom-Granderson.
“Victoria is tough, resilient and continues to succeed in the biggest, baddest basketball conference in the country,” said Mississippi State head coach Vic Schafer. “Every game, she gets the opposing team’s best defender and is often double-teamed. Her competitive fire is unquestioned and off the charts.”
Saiz was recruited from Spain and has excelled in his four years at Ole Miss, said Rebels head basketball coach Andy Kennedy. “Sebas is a great player and has been a tremendous asset and ambassador for our school,” Kennedy said. “He’s always enthusiastic, always positive, an incredible spirit.”
For the fourth time in the history of the awards, Mississippi hoops fans had the opportunity to take part in the voting for the C Spire Howell and Gillom Trophies. Fan voting counted for a weighted 10 percent of the awards total. Saiz won the fan vote for the men’s award and Vivians won the women’s fan vote. Over 7,600 votes were cast by fans.
The C Spire Howell Trophy is named after Bailey Howell, a two-time All American at Mississippi State and a six-time NBA All-Star who played on Boston Celtics world championship teams in 1968 and 1969. Howell, a 1977 inductee to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and the first Mississippi player inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame, still hold nearly a dozen season and career records at his college alma mater.
The C Spire Gillom Trophy is named after Abbeville, Miss. native Peggie Gillom-Granderson, Ole Miss’ all-time leading scorer and rebounder. She coached in the WNBA, the Olympics and was associate head coach for the Lady Rebels before retiring in 2011.
“There’s definitely some NBA and WNBA-caliber talent among this year’s C Spire Howell and Gillom Trophy award winners and finalists,” said Jim Richmond, vice president of Marketing for C Spire. "This has been another great year in terms of individual performance and overall leadership among the basketball teams in our state,” he added, noting that some of the teams led by this year’s award finalists are likely headed to the NCCA tournament.
2017 marks the 22th anniversary of Outstanding Player Awards presentation. C Spire has served as title sponsor for 20 of those years since 1998. The Conerly Trophy in college football, the Howell Trophy in men’s college basketball, the Gillom Trophy in women’s college basketball and the Ferriss Trophy in college baseball comprise the four elements of the C Spire Wireless Outstanding Player Award series.
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