Basketball: AU's Gabriel and Ross earns honors

Junior Kenny Gabriel was presented the most prestigious award, the Paul Lambert/Tommy Joe Eagles Memorial Trophy for Leadership, while sophomore Earnest Ross was named the Most Valuable Player at the 22nd annual Auburn Basketball Awards Banquet Wednesday at Auburn Arena.

The Lambert-Eagles Memorial Trophy is given in memory of Auburn's 15th head basketball coach, Paul Lambert, who died in a hotel fire on June 6, 1978, in Columbus, Ga., and Tommy Joe Eagles, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack on July 30, 1994, two months after becoming the head coach at New Orleans.

Gabriel averaged 10.3 points on the season while Ross averaged team-highs of 13.1 points and 6.6 rebounds. Gabriel was also named the SEC Player of the Week the final week of the regular season after averaging 20.0 points and 9.0 rebounds in both of Auburn*s double-digit comeback wins over Ole Miss and at LSU.

Ross also won the Chairman of the Boards Award for rebounding and the Free Throw Accuracy Award, shooting 79.3 percent from the foul line, good for 11th in the SEC. Josh Wallace won the Outstanding Defensive Player and Playmaker of the Year awards while Tony Neysmith claimed the Sixth Man Award.

Frankie Sullivan was presented the Bill Lynn Leadership Award and freshman Josh Langford garnered the Sportsmanship Award. Allen Payne was selected for the Freshman of the Year Award as he started 18 games and was fourth in total minutes played and led all freshman with 173 points scored for an average of 5.6 per game. Dylan Spencer and T.J.

Rice were co-winners of the Club Scholar-Athletic Award.

Varez Ward, Ty Armstrong and Sullivan were co-winners of the Inspirational Player Award while freshman Chris Denson was presented the Most Improved Player Award. Denson scored a career-high 21 points in 22 minutes vs. Georgia in the SEC Tournament while shooting 9-of-10 from the field. He averaged 8.5 points over Auburn*s last 12 games while averaging only 1.8 points in his first eight games played.

Jake Drum and Doug Merrell were co-winners of the Consistency Award while Adrian Forbes won the Hit the Deck Charge Award with a team-high 21 charges taken. Rob Chubb won the Field Goal Accuracy Award for shooting a team-high 46.5 percent from the floor.

Auburn, a consensus last place pick in the SEC, finished 11-20 overall and 4-12 in the SEC, to finish fifth in the SEC*s Western Division. After starting SEC play 1-8, Auburn finished regular season league play with a 3-4 record.

INFORMATION SOURCE: Auburn University Athletics