AUBURN, Alabama–Bruce Pearl said there were several good candidates when Auburn’s basketball coaching staff decided who would be selected for the 2021-22 team-honoring awards, but noted that the Tiger chosen for the team’s honor most valuable player is the one who stands out from everyone else in Pearl. decades as a college coach.
“I’ve never coached the best player on the pitch in every game – ever,” Pearl said of Jabari Smithwho was both SEC Freshman and National Freshman of the Year.
“I’ve never coached someone who wanted to practice every day and was ready to practice and ready to prepare,” Pearl said Wednesday night at the team’s awards banquet in the Neville Arena. More than 600 people attended the event to honor the SEC Championship team.
“He didn’t want to let his teammates down,” Pearl pointed out. “He knew who he was. He knew what he had to do for us to be successful and to be a champion. He didn’t want to let us down and he never let us down, and we were lucky enough to We have the opportunity to celebrate and now we will have the opportunity to see him hopefully be the number one player in the 2023 NBA Draft.”
Smith, a 6-10 forward, was named first-team All-SEC as well as multiple All-American teams. The United States Basketball Writers Association and National Association of Basketball Coaches named him Freshman of the Year for all college hoops after averaging a team-leading 16.9 points per game while averaging 7, 4 rebounds.
“I want to thank my teammates and thank the fans,” Smith said. “I’m going to be an Auburn man my whole life. Thank you and War Eagle.
Auburn’s other second-year All-American center/forward Walker Keslerwon Most Improved Player awards and the Iron Tiger award for his strength and conditioning efforts.
Second year point guard Wendell Green won the Sixth Man Award and the John Mengelt as the team’s best free throw shooter.
main leader Zep Jasper was named the Tigers’ top defensive player in an upset pick given that Kessler is the SEC as well as the National Defensive Player of the Year.
Another second-year goaltender, K.D. Johnsonwon the Spirit of Auburn award.
Chris Moore and Babatunde Akingbola shared the Sonny Smith Outstanding Teammate honor. Allen Flanigan and Jaylin Williams shared the Mike Mitchell Courage Award.
Dylan Cardwell and Lior Berman were honored as top academic performers on a list that included eight of the SEC’s top players who achieved all-college league status. Berman won the Gary Waters Award and Cardwell won the Bill Lynn Award.
“It’s been a fun year,” Pearl said of the team that finished 28-6 overall and 15-3 in the SEC. “These guys were fun to train and fun to watch.”
The Auburn coach added, “We’re reloading. We bring in very good kids and very good players, who want to be on very good teams, who want to be trained, who want to improve and who want to win championships.
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