JACKSON (WLBT) - Mississippi State's Alexis Rack and Jarvis Varnado both took home their respective Gillom and Howell trophies Thursday night, closing the careers on 2 of the greatest to ever don the maroon and white.
"This is real important, being named the best player in Mississippi," said Varnado, the 2009-2010 National Defensive Player of the Year and the NCAA's all-time leader in career blocked shots. "Winning it 2 times, it says a lot and I just thank my coaches and my teammates for it."
"I'm honored and blessed to win this," added Rack, who graduates as the all-time career leader in three-pointers made in SEC Women's history. "Just given this opportunity to be here is great. Both Bianca (Thomas) and Pauline Love are great players, and I'm just honored to get it."
Both star seniors were their typical humble selves upon receiving their award, but there were others who know each well, who had no shortage of due praise.
"It's a great moment for Mississippi State. She set a standard. She's made a mark for herself, and we're proud of those accomplishments," said Mississippi State Head Women's Coach Sharon Fanning-Otis.
"What can you say about Jarvis? He's the only man, the only player in NCAA history -- now, think about that -- that scored over 1,000 points in his career, that got over 1,000 rebounds, and blocked over 500 shots," said former Mississippi State and NBA Hall of Famer, Bailey Howell, for whom the men's trophy is named. "The only guy to ever accomplish that in NC double-A history, so that is amazing."
Mississippi State has now had 4 of the 6 recipients of the Cellular South Howell Trophy, and the last 3 in a row (Lawrence Roberts 2005; Jamont Gordon 2008; Jarvis Varnado 2009, 2010).
Alexis Rack became the first ever Cellular South Gillom trophy winner to be selected in the WNBA draft before the trophy presentation. Rack was selected 29th overall by the San Antonio Silver Stars.
Other men's finalists were Garrison Johnson (Jackson State) and Chris Warren (Ole Miss).
Pauline Love (Southern Miss) became the first woman to be chosen a three-time finalist, and was joined by Bianca Thomas (Ole Miss), who was chosen 12th overall in the 1st round of the WNBA Draft.