Tuesday, April 05, 2005
TUSCALOOSA – The University of Alabama held its annual basketball awards banquet on Tuesday night at the Bryant Conference Center, celebrating yet another successful season of Crimson Tide basketball.
Alabama won the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division and made its fourth-straight NCAA tournament appearance despite a schedule that included playing eight teams that made the 2005 NCAA tournament field and two more, including the eventual champion, who played in the 2005 NIT tournament. It was only the second time in school history Alabama won the SEC Western Division, the first coming when Mark Gottfried’s 2002 team won the division and the SEC regular season championships. Alabama, which finished 24-8, was ranked among the nation’s Top 25 from preseason to season’s end and finished No. 21 in the final Associated Press rankings, the first time it had been ranked from start to finish since the 2002 season and only the ninth time in school history, dating to 1955 when Alabama first broke into the AP rankings.
“I’m really proud of this group, especially our seniors,” said Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried who has guided the Crimson Tide to postseason play in six of the seven seasons he’s been at Alabama, including these four straight NCAA trips. “For those seniors to be a part of four straight NCAA tournaments is quite an accomplishment. Over their career, they averaged 22 wins a season, and the accolades could go on and on about what all this class has accomplished during their careers here. Although our season ended sooner than we’d like, I still believe it was a terrific year and a year to build on for the future.”
Freshman starting point guard Ronald Steele left Tuesday night’s award ceremony with the most hardware. The Birmingham native won three awards for leading the team in “Highest Free Throw Percentage” (.813%), “Highest Assists Average” (5.0), and “Most Steals” (36). Jean Felix, Chuck Davis and Jermareo Davidson were double award winners. Jean Felix won the “Guy Lee Turner Defensive Award” as the hardest working man on defense and the “Highest 3-Point Field Goal Percentage” award (.453%). Chuck Davis, who will graduate in August after just three years of school, was honored with the “Hayden Riley Scholarship” award as well as the “Most Blocked Shots” award (62). Davidson won the “Jerry Harper Rebounding” award for leading the team with his 7.9 rebounds per game and the “Highest Field Goal Percentage” award (.577%).
Other winners included Evan Brock who brought home the “Hustle” award for his effort on the court day in and day out; Kennedy Winston who won the “Highest Scoring Average” award (17.9), and Lucky Williams who won the “Robert Rah-Rah Scott Christian Leader” award, an award in honor of the late Robert Scott. Scott played at and coached at Alabama. He was an assistant coach on Mark Gottfried’s staff who passed away on May 9, 2000 after being diagnosed with cancer that fall.
The team also honored its senior players, Earnest Shelton, Jason Reese and Lucky Williams as well as senior head manager Brian Pounders. Shelton was not in attendance at the banquet as he is in Virginia preparing to open play Wednesday night in the prestigious Portsmouth Invitational.
Mark Gottfried paid tribute to his 2005 team which made the school’s fourth consecutive NCAA tournament trip in 2005 and won the SEC Western Division.
Evan Brock, Ronald Steele and Kennedy Winston show their awards including a basketball commemorating Winston’s 1,000th UA career point scored this season.
Big men Shawn Taylor and Chuck Davis enjoyed a season that found Alabama ranked among the Top 25 from the preseason poll all the way to the final AP rankings (No. 21), a season-long weekly feat only nine UA teams have accomplished since 1955.
The night is designed as a celebration of the season, and fans collected autographs from the Tide players, including, far right, Justin Jonus, Jean Felix (center) and Jason Reese (far left).
Jean Felix and Lucky Williams won two of the night’s special awards. Jean Felix won the “Guy Lee Turner” defensive award for his tough play, and Lucky won the Robert “Rah-Rah” Scott Christian Leadership” award.
Madonna Davidson poses with what was once her tiny bouncing baby boy, 6-10 sophomore center Jermareo Davidson.
The Tuscaloosa Tip-Off Club and TIDE PRIDE sponsor the reception. 2006 Tip-Off Club president Justin Williams, left, is shown with Tide coach Mark Gottfried and out-going 2005 club president David Rains.
Mark Gottfried, shown with his wife Elizabeth and four of their five children, was presented a basketball commemorating his 200th career victory, earned on the road with a win against Arkansas at Bud Walton Arena.
Mark Gottfried poses with his seniors, Jason Reese, Lucky Williams and head manager Brian Pounders. Another senior, Earnest Shelton, had to miss the banquet. He’s in Portsmouth, Va., where he’ll begin play Wednesday in the prestigious Portsmouth Invitational.