Austin of Lady Rebs and Molinar of the Bulldogs voted best college basketball players in the state

Shakira Austin of Ole Miss, a repeat offender, and Iverson Molinar of Mississippi State received the Peggie Gillom and Bailey Howell trophies, respectively, at an awards luncheon Monday at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Museum.

It says here that media voters across the state got it right by voting that MSHOF Executive Director Bill Blackwell said he was the closest in recent years. Ole Miss, 23-8 overall and 10-6 in the Southeastern Conference, was the top women’s team in the state, and Austin, which averaged 15.4 points and nine rebounds per game, was the Lady Rebels best player. Mississippi State, 17-14 overall and 8-10 in the SEC, was the best men’s team in the state, and Molinar, who will surely be named to the All-SEC team on Tuesday, was by far the best. Bulldogs player.

Obviously, there was some symmetry between the two prices.

Before we get into all the details, one of the most interesting moments on the program came when Ben Howland spoke about Howell’s legacy. Howland mentioned that Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe has averaged 15.3 rebounds per game this season and commentators are calling him the greatest college rebounder in decades.

Says Howland, “Bailey Howell averaged 17 rebounds per game his entire career!”

How good is it?

Of course, Howland could also have mentioned that Vanderbilt’s Scottie Pippen Jr. leads the SEC in scoring this season with 20.5 points per game. Howell averaged 27 per game for his career. It’s worth pointing out that Howell played in an era when there were no shot clocks, and coaches, including the great Babe McCarthy at State, often held the ball (“freezed it”) for long periods of time. periods.

Impossible to say what Bailey Howell would have done on average at today’s much faster pace. No wonder he was the second overall pick in 1959 behind another pretty good player named Wilt Chamberlain.

Austin took on fellow finalists Amyshya Williams-Holliday from Jackson State and Anastasia Hayes from Mississippi State. Williams-Holliday, who began his college career at State, led JSU to a perfect 18-0 Southwestern Athletic Conference record and 20-6 overall mark. She led the Lady Tigers in scoring with 19.8 points per game and rebounding with 11.2 per game. Hayes averaged 18.6 points per game for State.

Presumably, the close vote was between Austin and Williams-Holliday, both of whom have had standout seasons for successful teams. The two faced off in November with Austin scoring 24 points and grabbing 10 rebounds to lead Ole Miss to a 79-66 win. Williams-Holliday beat Jackson State with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Austin and Williams-Holliday have more basketball to play. Ole Miss should be a 6 seed, maybe even a 5 seed, in the NCAA Tournament. Jackson State will play Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the SWAC Women’s Tournament in Birmingham on Wednesday night.

Molinar, the State playmaker, averaged 17.8 points and 3.6 assists per game and saved some of his best performances for the toughest competition. For example, he scored 30 points in an overtime loss at Kentucky. He’s scored in double figures in every game in the state this season.

“As a good player as he is, he takes his studies as seriously as he does his basketball,” Howland said of Molinar. “As a good player and student as he is, he’s an even better person.”

Howell, a six-time NBA All-Star who still follows state basketball closely, thinks Molinar has the talent and the game to succeed at the NBA level.

“He has no weaknesses in his game,” Howell said of Molinar. “He can handle it, pass it and he’s a really good defensive player. If there’s one area where he can use some improvement, it’s in his long-range shooting. There’s such an emphasis in the NBA on three-point shooting.

Molinar won the Howell against finalists Jarkell Joiner of Ole Miss and Tyler Stevenson of Southern Miss. Joiner has averaged 13.4 points per game despite injuries this season. Stevenson led the Golden Eagles in points (14.7) and rebounds (7.7).

— Article credit to Rick Cleveland of mississippi today

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