The Alabama team did just that Monday night at the Bryant Conference Center here when the Tuscaloosa Tip-off Club and Tide Pride hosted the annual Alabama Basketball Awards reception.
"I'm so proud of our team and the things we accomplished," said Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried whose team ended the season ranked No. 8 in the final AP poll and rocketed to as high as No. 5 during the season. "Winning championships and being ranked as high as we did I think are phenomenal for this group considering that we are still a relatively young team. So I'm just thrilled, and I can't wait for next year to get here."
Several hundred gathered on a stormy night to honor the team in the event that included junior center Kenny Walker videotaping it all and then interviewing his teammates afterwards for a class project. Junior guard Terrance Meade caused the crowd to laugh as he shyly approached the stage and stood in front of the room during individual player introductions. He was wearing a black derby with a large white flower attached and carrying a cane as part of his initiation into the University of Alabama's Jason's. The group is a leadership organization that each year invites only a handful of men-many of those SGA presidents and future state and national political leaders-to join its fold.
The night also included the 700-member-strong "Mark's Madness" student basketball support group presenting a check for $500 to Cynthia Scott, widow of the late Robert "Rah-Rah" Scott as a donation to the Robert Scott Foundation.
Gottfried and his coaching staff presented Alabama's players with the following awards:
- Highest Free Throw Percentage: Mo Williams and Travis Stinnett (85%)
- Highest Assist Average: Mo Williams (4.5 assists per game)
- Highest Field Goal Percentage: Erwin Dudley (55.6%)
- Highest 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: Antoine Pettway (40.8%)
- Most Steals: Mo Williams
- Most Blocked Shots: Kenny Walker
- Most Improved: Earnest Shelton
- Senior Award: Solomon Davis
- Academic All-SEC: Terrance Meade, Travis Stinnett, Jim Bakken
- Hayden Riley Scholarship Award (highest GPA): Terrance Meade (3.6 in business)
- Jerry Harper Rebounding Award: Erwin Dudley (8.9 this season, 908 career)
- Guy Lee Turner Defensive Award: Demetrius Smith
- Hustle Award: Reggie Rambo
- 1,000 Career Points Scorers: Erwin Dudley, Rod Grizzard, Terrance Meade
- 900th Career Rebounds: Erwin Dudley (908 career rebounds, career average of 9.1)
Alabama finished the 2002 season with a 27-8 overall record. Mark Gottfried was named SEC Coach of the Year, Erwin Dudley the SEC Player of the Year, and Mo Williams the SEC Freshman of the Year.
Other season honors included Dudley being named AP All-American, 3rd Team, Rod Grizzard, Dudley and Williams being named All-SEC, Williams being named national Freshman of the Year by The Sporting News, Gottfried being named a national coach of the year finalist and Dudley being named a top 20 Wooden Award finalist.