STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) — Success on the court for both the Mississippi State men’s and women’s basketball team has parlayed into success when it comes to awards.
Monday, MSU had five players named as finalists for the Gillom and Howell trophies, awarded annually to the best male and female basketball player in the state.
The SEC champion MSU women claimed all three finalist spots, a first in the Gillom Trophy’s history, with Victoria Vivians, Teaira McCowan and Blair Schaefer.
The men, who can finish as high as second in the SEC standings, have brothers Quinndary and Nick Weatherspoon as finalists for the Howell Trophy.
Vivians has won the award the past three seasons, and her senior campaign has been the best of her career, averaging an SEC third-best 19.7 ppg and 19.6 tally in league play. The Carthage, Miss., native rates in the Top 15 in the league in field goal percentage and the Top 10 in both 3-point and free-throw percentage.
The third player in MSU history to reach 2,000-career points, Vivians has scored double figures in 29 of State’s 30 games, including 14 20-point efforts and a pair of 30-point outings. She has also excelled on the defensive end as well, pulling down a personal-best 6.0 rpg, including 6.3 rpg against SEC foes, and ranking second on the team with 1.5 spg.
Like Vivians, McCowan has enjoyed her best season at MSU, scoring an SEC fourth-most 18.7 ppg for the year. The Brenham, Texas, native also leads the league on the glass both for the season (13.5 rpg) and against conference foes (14.4 rpg).
McCowan’s season rebounding average rates third in NCAA Division I, while her school-record 22 double-doubles are fourth-best nationally and her 6.0 offensive rpg top the country. She also stands ninth in the nation in field goal percentage with an MSU-best 61.5-perecent rate.
McCowan has pulled down 10-plus rebounds in 27 games, including four games with 20 or more.
Blair Schaefer has emerged as one of the SEC’s top perimeter threats, knocking down an SEC-best 3.0 3-pointers per game in league play at a 44-percent clip that is fifth-best in conference. The Starkville, Miss., native has scored at a 9.8 clip this season, but is averaging 10.8 ppg against SEC competition
For the season, Schaefer is making the second-most triples per game in the league (2.7) while hitting 41.8 percent, sixth-best in the SEC. Her 81 made 3-pointers this season rank fifth in school single-season history.
Schaefer has also been an excellent defender for the Bulldogs, topping the team with 22 charges taken.
Earlier this year, Quinndary Weatherspoon became the 37th player in school history to score 1,000 for a career. The standout junior All-SEC performer from Canton, Miss., currently stands as 22nd all-time with 1,276 points.
He’s 13th in the SEC with his 14.7 scoring clip, third in field goal percentage and sixth in steals. Twice this season, he’s hit buzzer beaters for wins.
Nick Weatherspoon has established himself as one of the top freshmen in school history. His 11.1 scoring average is 10th-best all-time as an MSU freshman and currently second best on the team behind his brother.
He’s scored in double-digits 21 times, with his career-high of 22 points coming in the SEC opener against Arkansas.
The Weatherspoons join Southern Miss’ junior guard Cortez Edwards as finalists for the award.
The winners will be announced Monday, March 5 after another round of media votes as well as a fan vote. Fans can vote at www.csopavoting.com beginning Monday, Feb. 26 at 5 p.m. through Saturday, March 3 at 5 p.m.