JACKSON, Miss. -- Lawrence Roberts capped his brief but
brilliant career at Mississippi State by winning the Howell Trophy
on Thursday as the best college basketball player in Mississippi.
Roberts, a power forward who had more than 1,000 points and 600
rebounds in just two seasons in Starkville, won the inaugural award
voted upon by the state's media members and named after Mississippi
State great Bailey Howell.
Roberts, who averaged 16.9 points and a Southeastern
Conference-leading 11 rebounds this season, blossomed into one of
the best big men in the nation two years ago after transferring to
Mississippi State from Baylor after teammate Patrick Dennehy's
Roberts, a native of Houston, was named an All-American and the
SEC's player of the year in 2003-04 after leading the Bulldogs to
their first outright SEC regular-season title in 41 years and
averaging 17.1 points and 10.2 rebounds.
This season, his rebounding numbers were even better -- Roberts
led the SEC in that category and was the only Howell Trophy
finalist to lead the league in any statistic.
His scoring suffered only slightly despite increased attention
from his growing reputation as one of the SEC's best frontcourt
players, and because the Bulldogs' perimeter game failed to stretch
defenses and unclog the lane. As a result, Roberts was fifth in the
league in scoring with just under 17 points per game.
And in one of the highlights of the season, he had the first
triple-double in school history, finishing with 18 points, 12
assists and 11 rebounds in a 98-69 rout of Nicholls State on Nov.
He finished his Mississippi State career with 1,025 points and
Howell was an All-American at Mississippi State and a six-time
NBA All-Star who is second in school history with 2,030 points and
the Bulldogs' all-time leading rebounder with 1,277.