Basketball Awards Banquet Recap

CORAL GABLES -- On a night where there some attempts at humor from emcee Joe Zagacki, there was the reality of finality for a number of players that included Miami's two leading scorers this past year during the ‘Canes 18-16 season that saw them advance to the quarterfinals of the NIT before bowing out against Michigan 71-65.

Guards Robert Hite and Guillermo Diaz will clearly be sorely missed next season as both pursue dreams of the NBA as Diaz is projected as a mid-first round pick by numerous mock drafts and Hite will likely be a second round draft pick if he can show improved ball handling skills in the numerous pre-draft camps he will be attending.

The two guards were the leaders in awards that were handed out Monday night at the BankUnited Center in the team's end of the season banquet where players said their final good byes to fans, media and coaches.

Leading the way in the awards ceremony was Robert Hite who won this year's Team MVP after Diaz won the award last season.

Hite was voted MVP by his teammates making the award even more of an honor for the senior who finished the year averaging 16.4 points per game, good for second on the team, while hitting 85 three-pointers this season, a Hurricanes record which eclipsed the mark that Steven Edwards had at 79.

Playing every game like it was his last, Hite led the team in scoring in 18 of the 34 games the 'Canes played this year, including a 31-point effort in Miami's 84-78 win at Florida State in overtime.

"It's definitely an honor to go out with an award like this," Hite said. "Especially when it's voted on by your teammates."

Hite also won an award for earning All-ACC honors and had the team's top three-point shooting percentage.

After winning Team MVP last season, Diaz, who averaged a team high 17.2 points per game to lead the team, won the team's Mr. Clutch Award.

And for good reason after his numerous clutch buckets down the stretch in games proved to make a huge difference in numerous wins, including back breaking three-pointers over Florida State and North Carolina.

His step back three-pointer gave Miami a four-point lead late in overtime in Miami's win at Florida State and his three-pointer late in the shot clock at North Carolina led the ‘Canes to a big win over the Tar Heels at the Dean Dome.

Diaz also secured an award for All-ACC honors as well as being the team's top assist man averaging 2.9 assists per game this season.

Diaz will spend the next six weeks training for the NBA Draft in Tampa as he tries to up his draft stock that projects him anywhere from the 14th pick to the 25th pick in the draft.

Other big award winners were seldom-used senior Lee Butler, who clearly is ready for corporate America as his dress alone proved it. While other teammates were dressed rather casually, Butler sported a nice tie and dress shirt and slacks.

Only Ray Hicks had him beat with his preacher-style suit that had a coat down below his knees. The business-like senior who walked on to the team when Frank Haith took over as coach won The Ultimate Teammate Award and the Outstanding Student-Athlete Award.

Next week, Butler will interview for a job at the ACC headquarters in North Carolina.

Below is a list of all the awards winners on the special night of honors.

TOP OF THE KEY SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD....................... ADRIAN THOMAS

(Presented by the Top of the Key Club)

SECOND TEAM ALL-ACC....................... GUILLERMO DIAZ

THIRD TEAM ALL-ACC....................... ROBERT HITE

MOST BLOCKED SHOTS....................... ANTHONY KING

MOST ASSISTS....................... GUILLERMO DIAZ

CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARDS....................... ANTHONY KING

FREE THROW PERCENTAGE....................... ANTHONY HARRIS

FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE....................... GARY HAMILTON

3-POINT FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE....................... ROB HITE

OUTSTANDING DEFENDER....................... GARY HAMILTON

HUSTLIN' CANES....................... DENIS CLEMENTE

THE ULTIMATE TEAMMATE AWARD....................... LEE BUTLER

OUTSTANDING STUDENT-ATHLETE....................... LEE BUTLER

MR. CLUTCH AWARD....................... GUILLERMO DIAZ

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER....................... RAY HICKS

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER....................... ROBERT HITE

Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat is the Basketball Staff Writer with CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at rudy@canestime.com


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