Basketball Awards Handed Out

It was a time of celebration of a truly successful season at the Alabama basketball team's end-of-the-year awards banquet Tuesday night, but there was also still a hint of a bitter taste in the Bryant Conference Center banquet room that wasn't necessarily caused by the food, but by the year's sooner-than-expected finish.

Alabama Head Coach Mark Gottfried got a standing ovation as he was introduced at the event, one that was welcome because "I haven't been feeling real good for about the last three weeks watching the (NCAA) tournament," Gottfried said.

Alabama was a five-seed in the NCAA tournament, but lost to 12th-seeded Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the first round on March 17.

"We had a bad game against a good team on a day they were hot," Gottfried said.

Gottfried also had a lot to feel good about, noting his squad's 24-8 overall record, the second Southeastern Conference Western Division title since 2002 and 113 wins over the past five years.

"I'm really proud of this group, especially our seniors," Gottfried said. "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."

Alabama made its fourth-straight NCAA tournament appearance with a schedule that included playing eight teams that made the 2005 NCAA tournament field and two more who played in the 2005 NIT tournament, including eventual champion South Carolina.

Alabama 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.

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.

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