SPOTLIGHT: The Best Of The Best
April 3, 2012
By Christina Stuebe
Ole Miss fans have not only had the privilege of being part of such wonderful athletic tradition, but have also had the opportunity to see some extremely talented student-athletes represent the university and the SEC.
Student athletes at Ole Miss have always strived for greatness and have wanted to represent the Rebels on the national level to the best of their athletic ability. Some athletes have passed through the halls of Ole Miss whose names will never be forgotten. Some of those unforgettable faces were the best of the best here at Ole Miss, and each year they are honored for their dedication to their sport and their school by being inducted into the M-Club Hall of Fame.
This season, Deuce McAllister, Ansu Sesay, David Dellucci, Yolanda Moore and Jerry Montgomery were the five memorable individuals that were selected to the honor of being inducted into the M-Club Hall of Fame. Bobby Bailess is this year's recipient of the M-Club Service Award.
Deuce McAllister enjoyed a record-breaking career at Ole Miss from 1997-2001. He appeared in three bowl games during his tenure at Ole Miss, including the first Ford Motor City Bowl as a freshman, scoring with 31 seconds left in regulation to lead the Rebels to a 34-31 win over the Marshall Thundering Herd.
"First of all, you're ecstatic just to be thought of with some of the elite athletes that have come through the university," said McAllister of his Hall of Fame induction. "And now to have your name and your number being put up there with the rest of them in the Hall of Fame is definitely an honor. It's a pleasure."
McAllister is the only player in Ole Miss history to finish three seasons with at least 1,000 all-purpose yards, totaling 4,889 during his college career. He also holds the record for carries with 616, rushing touchdowns with 37 and total touchdowns with 41.
In 1999, McAllister was the recipient of the Conerly Trophy, which is presented to the most outstanding player in the state of Mississippi following each football season. Following his football career at Ole Miss He was selected 23rd overall by the New Orleans Saints in the 2001 NFL draft. He played nine seasons for the Saints. McAllister rushed for over 1,000 yards in three straight seasons (a first in Saints' history) and was twice selected to the Pro Bowl. In 2008, McAllister set the all-time rushing touchdown record (49) for the New Orleans Saints.
McAllister values his experiences at Ole Miss. "Some of my best friends are still the guys I played with at Ole Miss, so it's special to me. The one thing I'll definitely remember is going to bowl games every year and beating LSU."
In addition to being dedicated to Ole Miss on the field, McAllister has also contributed to the community in other ways. He donated $1 million to the university to help build the indoor practice facility and is involved with the Deuce McAllister Catch 22 Foundation which works with young people throughout the states of Mississippi and Louisiana.
Ansu Sesay led the Rebels to two-straight SEC Western Division titles and earned several honors from 1995 to 1998 as a forward for the Ole Miss basketball team. He was a consensus All-American in 1998. He was named to the John R. Wooden All-America team as well as several others.
Sesay led the Rebels in scoring, averaging 18.6 points per game, and in rebounding with 7.6 rebounds per game. He is also one of two Rebel basketball players at Ole Miss to record 1,000 points, 600 rebounds, and 200 assists.
"Being part of putting the program where it is now and being able to compete at a college that's recognized in the SEC," said Sesay of what he considers his greatest accomplishment while at Ole Miss.
Sesay was selected by the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the 1998 NBA Draft. In 2001-02, he was named the NBDL Player of the Year, before returning to the league for a three-year stint with the Seattle Sonics and a season with the Golden State Warriors. He has also played internationally in Italy, Germany, and France.
David Dellucci enjoyed an outstanding career for the Diamond Rebels, from 1992 to 1995. Led by Dellucci among others, Ole Miss finished on the verge of its first World Series appearance since 1972, placing second at the NCAA Atlantic I Regional behind host Florida State.
"It's quite an honor to be inducted. I cherish the time that I spent at Ole Miss and playing on the baseball team, and this is definitely a reward for all that was done on the baseball field," said Dellucci. "I give a lot of credit for my baseball career to Don Kessinger who was my baseball coach while I was at Ole Miss. Having him for a head coach helped prepare me on and off the field for my professional career."
Dellucci earned All-SEC honors in 1994 and 1995 and All-America accolades in `95. While with the Rebels, he set 10 school records and led the team in hitting. He was drafted in 1995 by the Baltimore Orioles and enjoyed a 12-year career in the major leagues. Selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 1998 MLB Expansion Draft, he played for Arizona from 1998 to 2003, including playing on the World Series-winning squad in 2001. He led the National League in triples in 1998.
After Hurricane Katrina, Dellucci, a Louisiana native, started the Catch 22 for Blue Foundation to raise money to help the victims of the hurricane. He was rewarded with a Commendation from the Louisiana Senate and House of Representatives for the work he did. He heads Dellucci's Dream Foundation which puts on an annual free baseball clinic in Baton Rouge for boys and girls and educates young children with life skills.
Yolanda Moore was a four-year letterwinner (1993-96) on the Ole Miss women's basketball team. Moore led the Rebels to top 25 national rankings during her time at Ole Miss. She also earned All-SEC honors and was named team MVP her last two years.
"It's definitely a surprise and an honor," said Moore on being inducted into the M-Club Hall of Fame. "When I first got the phone call I thought it was a practical joke," laughed Moore. "I feel very honored. Ole Miss is like home, and I feel like I grew up there."
After her career at Ole Miss, Moore earned a spot with the Houston Comets of the WNBA in 1997, winning two championships while with the Comets. She has played basketball internationally in both Asia and Europe and has held positions as a basketball analyst.
During his 15-year career as the head women's tennis coach at Ole Miss, Jerry Montgomery led the Rebels to nine NCAA championship appearances as well as the program's first ever SEC Tournament Championship in 1999. His teams spent 11 Consecutive years among the top 25 teams in the nation and five years among the nation's top 10.
Montgomery coached five All-Americans and two players who were ranked No. 1 nationally, which he considers to be among his top accomplishments while at Ole Miss. He earned SEC Coach of the Year honors in 1993 and 1999.
"Being a coach at Ole Miss was truly one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. It fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine to be a college coach," said Montgomery. "I'm really humbled to be part of this group."
The 2010 M-Club Service Award is being presented to Bobby Bailess for his outstanding dedication and service to the M-Club as well as to the University of Mississippi. Bailess lettered in football from 1971 to 1973 as a linebacker for the Ole Miss Rebels.
Bailess served as president of the M-Club from 2002 to 2004 and is also a life member of the M-Club. He has also served in other legal and community organizations. Bailess is currently an attorney in Vicksburg, Miss.
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