Ole Miss Named Finalist For V Foundation Comeback Award

CARY, N.C. Having fought through the adversity of three season-ending injuries and several others throughout the year, Ole Miss has put itself in position to make a run for a third straight postseason appearance entering the home stretch of the regular season. For its resiliency in overcoming the injury situation, the 2008-09 Ole Miss Men’s Basketball Team is one of 12 finalists for the ninth annual V Foundation Comeback Award, as announced by the V Foundation for Cancer Research earlier this week.

The award is presented in conjunction with ESPN, and the recipient will be announced during ESPN’s basketball Final Four/NIT weekend coverage.

Ole Miss has been without the services of junior guard Eniel Polynice (cartilage damage in knee) and All-SEC freshman picks Trevor Gaskins (ACL tear) and Chris Warren (ACL tear) since the early part of the season. Add to that nagging injuries to guards Zach Graham (partially torn patella tendon), Terrico White (bone bruise in knee) and David Huertas (bone bruise in foot), and it has truly been remarkable that the Rebels have stayed in the hunt for postseason play at all.

It has been a “never give up” spirit that has allowed this group, statistically the least experienced teams in the country, to persevere and have a chance to finish at .500 in league play if it wins on “Senior Day” against Mississippi State. Ironically, the only two seniors on the Rebel squad are walk-ons Patrick Spach and Ryan Brown, who have certainly earned their keep in Ole Miss practices this season.

The other finalists are: Suzanne Albert, Felician College; Jermaine Bishop, Northern Arizona University; Kelvin Davis, San Diego State University; Joe Ford, University of the Pacific; Jerika Jenkins, Hampton University; Brooke Johnson, Western Carolina University; Cait McMahan, University of Tennessee; Eleia Roddy, University of Kentucky; Dana Pernell Smith II, Longwood University; Tiffara Steward, Farmingdale State College; Azania Stewart, University of Florida.

The annual comeback award is open to men and women collegiate basketball student-athletes in all divisions. It is awarded to an individual or a team who has accomplished a personal triumph in the face of true adversity, be it in health, life or moral dilemma. Student-athletes are nominated by their athletics department representative.

The award is presented in memory of Jim Valvano, the late basketball coach (of Andy Kennedy during his freshman year at N.C. State) and ESPN commentator, whose personal battle with cancer inspired the creation of The V Foundation. In his memorable speech at ESPN’s inaugural ESPY Awards announcing the creation of The V Foundation, Valvano’s “Don’t Give Up. . .Don’t Ever Give Up!” motto created a legacy from which the Comeback Award was created.

The 2009 recipient will be selected by an eight-member sub-committee of The V Foundation Board of Directors. Past recipients of the award are Purdue’s Katie Douglas (2001), Western Michigan’s Kristin Koetsier (2002), Arizona State’s Justin Allen (2003), Texas’ Jamie Carey (2004), Washington’s Kayla Burt (2005), Western Washington’s Grant Dykstra (2006), the United States Military Academy Women’s Basketball Team (2007) and Drexel University’s Nicole Hester (2008).

The V Foundation for Cancer Research

The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano, legendary North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN commentator. Since 1993, The Foundation has raised more than $80 million to fund cancer research grants nationwide. It awards 100 percent of all new direct cash donations and net proceeds of events directly to cancer research and related programs. The Foundation, which has received six consecutive top 4-star ratings from Charity Navigator, awards grants through a competitive awards process strictly supervised by a Scientific Advisory Board. For more information on The V Foundation or to make a donation, please visit www.jimmyv.org.


 

 

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