Gordon and Rhodes become the first State tandem since Lawrence Roberts and Timmy Bowers from MSU's 2003-04 SEC championship team to earn first-team, all-league honors in the same season. Prior to that, current Dallas Mavericks center Erick Dampier and Darryl Wilson accomplished the feat during MSU's 1995-96 Final Four campaign.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Gordon begins postseason play ranked fifth in the SEC in scoring, third in assists (4.77 apg) and tied for 14th in rebounds (6.3 rpg) for all games. Joining SEC Player of the Year Shan Foster of Vanderbilt as one of only two unanimous first-team selections on this year's squad, Gordon has also recently been selected as one of 24 student-athletes named to the official voting ballot for the 2008 John R. Wooden Award All-American Team and Player of the Year. In addition, the Bob Cousy Award national finalist has been named to the NABC All-District 6 First Team and to Rivals.com's All-SEC First Team.
A product of Jackson's Lanier High School, Rhodes has earned first-team status after collecting second-team, all-league laurels each of the previous two seasons for coach Rick Stansbury's Bulldogs. The 6-foot-8, 245-pound forward begins postseason tournament action ranked seventh in the SEC in scoring, sixth in both rebounding (7.7 rpg) and field-goal percentage (.560), and 10th in blocks (1.33 bpg). Last week's SEC Player of the Week, Rhodes ranks tied for third in the conference with nine double-doubles, including recent double-double efforts against LSU (27/10) and Vanderbilt (22/14) to close out the regular season.
Having led the nation in blocked shots (4.80 bpg) for a majority of the season, Varnado has established a new single-season school standard with 144 blocks this season and begins postseason action needing 13 swats to match Shaquille O'Neal's current SEC all-time season mark of 157 rejects set at LSU in 1991-92. The unanimous choice by the league's head coaches as this year's SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Varnado has been credited with five or more blocks on 16 occasions this season, including 10-block contests versus Kentucky, Georgia and Miami (Fla.). Along with owning more blocked shots on the season than nine SEC teams, the 6-foot-9, 210-pound defensive stalwart is also currently averaging 7.8 points and ranks as the league's fifth-leading rebounder (7.9 rpg). The Brownsville, Tenn., native already ranks second on the school's all-time blocks list behind Dampier (249 blocks) with 211 career rejects.