MSU Sweeps Howell, Gillom Trophies

Mississippi State senior center Jarvis Varnado won a second consecutive Howell Trophy as the state’s top male college basketball player. The award was presented tonight at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Jackson.

He beat out Ole Miss point guard Chris Warren and Jackson State guard Garrison Johnson.

“The best player in Mississippi, that says a lot, getting it two times,” Varnado said. “I thank my coaches and my teammates for it, because without them, none of this would have been possible.”

Said Warren, “He led the nation in blocked shots, got the record, you’ve gotta give it to him.” Varnado set the NCAA career blocks mark, with 564.

Varnado’s received a lot of postseason awards this year, but this one’s a little extra special.

“As you see with the crowd he had here tonight, family means so much to him,” MSU assistant coach Phil Cunningham said. “It’s close enough for his family to get down here, too, and share it with him. And he understands, he really respects Bailey Howell, and he knows about Bailey and Bailey’s background. Just winning it last year I think he saw just how special an award it was.”

The Gillom Trophy, which goes to the top female player, was won by MSU senior guard Alexis Rack. Like Varnado, she won it last year, so it’s another Bulldog sweep and marks the first time the Howell and Gillom awards have been won back-to-back by the same players. Rack beat out Bianca Thomas of Ole Miss and Pauline Love of USM.

“Bianca and Pauline Love are great players, and I’m just honored to get it,” said Rack, who was one of three Lady Bulldogs taken in today’s WNBA draft.

Her coach, Sharon Fanning-Otis, said, “As you can see from the draft today, this team has been a team of several good players, and there’s others at home who are not seniors that really helped us be successful. But Alexis bought into continuing to work, and she grew as a player this year and helped us be successful.”