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Hoops fans will help decide who will be the 2017 C Spire Howell and Gillom Trophy winners honoring Mississippi’s top male and female college basketball players

Formula for determining winners means fans will influence 10 percent of the award total; sparking new excitement, interest and engagement with their favorite players and schools

Jackson, Miss., (February 27, 2016) – For only the fourth time in the history of the awards, Mississippi hoops fans will have the opportunity to take part in the voting for the C Spire Howell and Gillom Trophies, which annually honor the Magnolia state's top male and female college basketball players.

C Spire, along with the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum (MSHOF), announced today that fan voting will count for 10 percent of the 2017 Howell and Gillom Trophy awards. A panel of statewide media will comprise the remaining 90 percent of the voting.

"This gives fans a chance to play a part in helping select our state's best male and female college basketball players," said Bill Blackwell, executive director of the MSHOF and co-sponsor of the award along with C Spire. "The National Basketball Association and players and coaches have used fan voting to determine who plays in the All-Star game for years. Giving our fans, who are some of the most passionate in sports, a voice in the process creates more interest in a pair of awards that have become an integral part of Mississippi college basketball tradition."

The 2017 C Spire Howell and Gillom Trophies will be awarded during a March 6 luncheon program at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Jackson. Among recent Howell Trophy winners are Trey Johnson from Jackson State, Jamont Gordon, two-time winner Jarvis Varnado and Arnett Moultrie of Mississippi State, Gary Flowers of Southern Miss, Marshall Henderson and Jarvis Summers of Ole Miss and back-to-back winner, Ole Miss' Stefan Moody.

Past recipients of the C Spire Gillom Trophy, presented since 2008, include Jennifer Rushing and two-time winner Veronica Walker from Delta State, two-time winner Alexis Rack of Mississippi State, Southern Miss' Jamierra Faulkner and two-time winner Victoria Vivians of Mississippi State.

"College basketball fans across Mississippi are very passionate about their schools and the star players in their respective programs," said Jim Richmond, vice president of Marketing for C Spire. "We're excited about continuing to give them the opportunity to vote for their favorite players for the C Spire Howell and Gillom Trophies."

The top three finalists for the 2017 Howell Trophy include Ole Miss' senior center Sebastian Saiz, Mississippi State's sophomore guard and Delta State senior guard Devin Schmidt. Mississippi State's Victoria Vivians and Morgan William and Brittany Dinkins of Southern Miss lead the list of 2017 finalists for the Gillom Trophy.

Fan voting will begin on Monday, Feb. 27 at 8:30 a.m. CST and ends on Saturday, March 4 at 5 p.m. CST. By visiting C Spire's fan voting website, www.csopavoting.com, fans can vote for their favorite college basketball player by simply providing an email address and name, or connecting through Facebook or Twitter. Once an account is created, voting is allowed and fans can choose their first, second and third place winners. Fans will be able to vote via Facebook, Twitter and text messaging up to three times per day during the six-day voting period.

The Howell Trophy presented by C Spire is named after Bailey Howell, a two-time All American at Mississippi State University 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 male Mississippi player inducted in the National Basketball Hall of Fame, still holds nearly a dozen season and career records at Mississippi State University.

The Gillom Trophy presented by C Spire is named after Abbeville native Peggie Gillom-Granderson, Ole Miss' all-time leading scorer and rebounder. She has coached in the WNBA and the Olympics and recently retired after a seven-year stint as Associate Head Coach of the Lady Rebels basketball team at Ole Miss.

2017 marks the 21st anniversary of the Outstanding Player Awards presentation. C Spire has served as title sponsor for 18 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 Outstanding Player Award series.

Tickets starting at $40 each are on sale for the March 6 awards luncheon at MSHOF offices and online. For more information, call 601.982.8264. Former LSU head basketball coach John Brady, a McComb, Miss. native and Belhaven University alumnus, will be the featured guest speaker.

About C Spire
C Spire is a diversified telecommunications and technology services company that provides world-class customer-inspired service and a superior comprehensive suite of wireless communications, high-speed Internet access and a range of other telecommunications products and services to consumers and businesses. This news release and other announcements are available at www.cspire.com/news. For more information about C Spire, visit www.cspire.com or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cspire or Twitter at www.twitter.com/cspire.