On the same day Braxton Key announced that he was exploring the possibility of being an NBA draftee, he was one of two freshmen from the 2016-17 Alabama men’s basketball team taking home top honors at the Crimson Tide’s annual awards banquet Monday at the Bryant Conference Center.
Key earned the Outstanding Freshman Award, while redshirt freshman guard Dazon Ingram was named Outstanding Offensive Player of the Year. Key averaged team highs of 12.0 points per game, 20 double-figure scoring games and 29.8 minutes a contest, while also ranking second in assists (2.5) and rebounds (5.7). Ingram, who was the only Crimson Tide player to start all 34 contests on the year, ranked second in scoring (10.6 ppg) and led the Tide in assists (3.3 apg), steals (0.9 spg) and 3-point shooting (.429).
Key (407 points) and Ingram (360 points) combined to score 767 points – approximately 33 per cent of the team's total. Key’s scoring total ranks seventh among Bama freshmen in program history, while Ingram's total is 14th.
The duo's combined total ranks as the second-best scoring output by freshmen teammates in program history, ranking only behind the 827 scored by Reggie King (543) and Robert Scott (284) in 1976-77. (Tops by a pair of newcomers in Alabama history is the 849 points by freshman James "Hollywood" Robinson  and junior college transfer Latrell Sprewell  scored in 1990-91 season.)
Alabama finished the 2016-17 season with a record of 19-15 overall and 10-8 in Southeastern Conference play. The Crimson Tide reached the National Invitation Tournament for the second straight season under Coach Avery Johnson and for the 15th time in program history.
Alabama's fifth-place finish in the SEC was a five-spot improvement from 10th-place in 2015-16. The improvement in the standings was second only to Florida's six-spot improvement from last season. It was the Tide's best finish in the SEC since closing the 2012-13 season in fourth.
In the SEC Tournament, the Tide captured a pair of victories on its way to the first semifinal appearance since 2013. It was the first time since the 2002 event that Alabama has won two games in the event.
Some 500 fans including members of the sponsoring Tuscaloosa Tipoff Club and Tide Pride joined the coaches, staff, players, and managers for Monday night’s event. Crimson Tide play-by-play radio announcer Chris Stewart was master of ceremonies. New Athletics Director Greg Byrne addressed the gathering before Coach Johnson presented awards.
In addition to those presented to Key and Ingram, graduate senior Bolan Olaniyan won the Outstanding Defensive Player Award, while Avery Johnson Jr. was named the Most Improved Player. Graduate senior Corban Collins was given the Coach Avery Award, given in recognition of attitude and effort throughout the course of the season. Jimmie Taylor, along with Collins and Olaniyan, also received special recognition as the team’s departing seniors.
Collins, Olaniyan, Key, Taylor, Daniel Giddens and Landon Fuller each took home a Student Academic Achievement Award, while Key, Brandon Austin and Lawson Schaffer each were named recipients of the Commitment to Service Award.