JaJuan, Major most improved

One stands 6-feet-10 and weighs 250 pounds. The other stands 6-feet-2 and weighs 190 pounds.

Physically, Major Wingate and JaJuan Smith have little in common. But they made equally dramatic strides on the court last winter, which is why they were co-winners of the Lowell Blanchard Most Improved Player award at Friday night's Vol basketball awards banquet.

Wingate doubled his scoring average last season, going from 5.0 points per game in 2004-05 to 10.3 in 2005-06. He also increased his shooting percentage from 50.5 to 55.2, his rebound average from 3.0 to 3.8 and his assist total from 14 to 30.

Smith made an even bigger jump, going from 1.9 points per game in 2004-05 to 9.7 in 2005-06. His shooting percentages improved significantly – 31.5 to 40.0 percent from the floor, 29.4 to 37.2 from 3-point range and 44.4 to 57.4 from the foul line.

Jordan Howell picked up the Burchfield-Moss Most Courageous Award. Howell didn't leave the bench in UT's exhibition opener but gradually worked his way into the playing rotation and wound up averaging 7.6 minutes and 2.1 points per game as the No. 2 point guard.

Not surprisingly, Dane Bradshaw won the Team Before Self Award. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder switched from point guard to power forward in preseason and started every game, despite playing the last half of the season with a wrist injury that required surgery. He also won the John Stucky Lifter of the Year Award for his improvement in the weight room.

Transfer Tony Passley, though unable to play in 2005-06, was recognized for his practice performance by getting the Hardest Worker Award.

Walk-on Ben Bosse won the Thornton Center Award for academic excellence.

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