Lawrence Roberts: Naismith Award Finalist

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State junior Lawrence Roberts has been named as one of 20 national finalists for this year's Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Award. Jackie Bradford, the president of the Atlanta Tipoff Club, made the announcement this week from the organization's Atlanta offices.

The Naismith Board of Selectors, which includes some of the country's leading basketball coaches, journalists and administrators, began the selection process earlier this year. They have reduced the number of finalists by balloting to the top 20 male and female players they feel most deserving of the award. The winners of the Naismith Awards will be honored in Atlanta on April 9, 2004.

Roberts, who has also made the midseason top 30 list of candidates for this year's prestigious John R. Wooden Award, is joined on the 2003-04 Naismith Award candidate listing by Southeastern Conference foe Matt Freije of Vanderbilt University.

Roberts, a 6-9, 235-pound forward/center from Houston, currently ranks sixth among the SEC's leading scorers at 17.2 points per game and stands second in the league and 14th nationally in rebounding (10.0 rpg), as well as rating fourth in the SEC in field-goal percentage (57.3%; 30th in the NCAA) for all games. In conference games only this season, the former Baylor transfer ranks third in scoring (18.1 ppg), second in rebounding (8.9 rpg) and fourth in field-goal percentage (56.9%).

The SEC's current Player of the Week for the second time this season for his efforts in last week's MSU road wins over both South Carolina and Arkansas, Roberts is averaging 19.3 points on 61 percent shooting from the field over his last seven outings. For the year, the all-America candidate is tied for the league lead with 13 double-doubles and is bidding to become the first MSU player since Rickey Brown (1979-80) to average a double-double for an entire season. Entering the week tied for fourth nationally in double-doubles, Roberts also ranks fourth among all active NCAA Division I players with 35 career double-doubles in 78 career college games.

OTHER MSU BASKETBALL NEWS: Mississippi State's Lawrence Roberts will be featured Thursday (Feb. 19) on SEC-TV, Fox Sports Net's live, weekly Southeastern Conference studio program. Slated to also spotlight MSU's Humphrey Coliseum on the show's "Homecourt Presented by BC Powder" segment, this week's SEC-TV program can be seen Thursday at 5:30 p.m. CST. Hosted this week by Cory Kessler, the live, half-hour show originates from FSN's Atlanta studio.

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