Gillom Trophy another top honor for Peggie

Peggie Gillom still can't believe it. But it's true.

First there was the Conerly Trophy. Then came the Howell and the Ferris.

And now the Gillom.

This new award will go to the player voted the best in college basketball in Mississippi each year. Now Ole Miss has two of the four trophies with the Conerly Award named for the late Charlie Conerly of Rebel and NFL football fame.

"Every day I wake up, I can't believe it," said Peggie, the former Lady Rebel player, current Lady Rebel assistant coach, and former head coach at Texas A&M. "I am still amazed. Even when I'm gone, this award will still be around."

The Gillom name will still be around Ole Miss and Mississippi sports for a long time. Peggie and her sister, Jennifer, have built quite a legacy over the years. The Gillom Sports Center on the Ole Miss campus is named in their honor. Peggie says it's all almost overwhelming to her.

"The naming of the Gillom Center was special," said Peggie, who played basketball at Lafayette County High School. "But now this trophy, and I am just still in disbelief."

But it isn't her trophy alone. She says there is one special player who is always there.

"The first person I ever recruited was Eugenia Conner," said Peggie of the former Lady Rebel player who died only a few years after her Ole Miss playing days. "She always said I was one of her role models, and I owe so much to Eugenia and to my own former teammates."

Peggie was joined at the announcement in Jackson by the Ole Miss coaching staff. Head Coach Renee Ladner was there, as were assistants Jocelyn McGilberry and Marlene Stollings, along with other colleagues, friends, and family.

"It feels so good having so much support," said Peggie, one of only two players in Ole Miss history to score 2,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds during a career and that includes the men's basketball program, too. "I've gotten so many calls from all over. I appreciate all of them for being so pleased for me."

But Peggie says there's more. It's not just about her. There are others and there's also her faith.

"I believe in God, and I'm a Christian," said Peggie, who was also an Olympic assistant coach and a WNBA assistant prior to returning to Ole Miss as a part of Carol Ross' staff in 2003-04. "This is also about helping Ole Miss and the state of Mississippi. Anytime positive things can happen for Ole Miss and the state of Mississippi, that makes me feel good."

Ladner says the right person was picked for this newest trophy awarded to a great Mississippi student-athlete.

"This award could not be named after a more deserving person," she said. "I think Peggie exemplifies everything this award stands for and, as a fellow Mississippian, I could not be more proud that the trophy will bear her name."

The award becomes a part of the Cellular South Outstanding Player Award Series and will be known officially as the Cellular South Gillom Trophy. All women's basketball players at all of Mississippi's four-year college basketball programs are eligible regardless of school size, team record, position played, or class standing.

The first annual Cellular South Gillom Trophy will be presented March 31, 2008. The inaugural presentation will be in conjunction with the Cellular South Howell Trophy, which is awarded annually to the top men's basketball player in the state. Media voters from across Mississippi will determine the finalists and eventual winners of both awards.

Peggie said she's already posed for the trophy, which was an interesting day.

"They measured me for it, and it hit me again that this was all for real," she said. "That was quite an experience and took a long time to get just right."

The trophy itself will likely turn out right. One thing is already a certainty. They clearly got the name of it just right.

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