JACKSON, Miss. — Vic Schaefer’s message to Victoria Vivians more than four years ago was that if she would come play basketball at Mississippi State, the wins would follow.
Turns out the awards did, too.
Vivians won the Gillom Trophy for an unprecedented fourth straight season on Monday after leading No. 4 Mississippi State to a 32-1 record heading into the NCAA Tournament later this month. The Gillom Trophy is given to Mississippi’s top women’s college basketball player.
Mississippi State’s Quinndary Weatherspoon won the Howell Trophy, which is given to the state’s top men’s player.
Vivians grew up just a few hours from Mississippi State’s campus, but after a prolific high school career she had the opportunity to play in college at pretty much anywhere in the country. From the outside, joining the Bulldogs was a risk considering the program was not usually among the best in the Southeastern Conference.
But Vivians never wavered.
“I didn’t worry because it was home,” Vivians said. “If everything else failed I was still at home.”
The 6-foot-1 Vivians is having another good year statistically, averaging 19.6 points and six rebounds per game. But coach Vic Schaefer — who arrived in Starkville two years before Vivians — said her impact on the program is much greater than stats could ever show.
“I understand the significance that she’s had on our program and the impact,” Schaefer said. “She gave credibility to our program and allowed us to get all those great players behind her.”
The result is an unprecedented run of success for the Bulldogs. They advanced all the way to the NCAA Tournament finals last year — upsetting mighty UConn along the way — before falling to South Carolina in the title game.
This year, Vivians is one of the main reasons Mississippi State could make it back for another opportunity at the title.
Vivians is the first four-time Gillom Trophy winner in the award’s 11-year history. Weatherspoon is the first Mississippi State player to win the Howell Trophy since Arnett Moultrie in 2012.
The 6-4 Weatherspoon is averaging 14.7 points and 5.9 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who have a 21-10 record this season, including a 9-9 mark in the SEC.
The sweep for the Bulldogs was no surprise considering the school combined for five of the six finalists between the two awards. Mississippi State’s Teaira McCowan and Blair Schaefer were the other Gillom finalists.
Mississippi State’s Nick Weatherspoon and Southern Miss’ Cortez Edwards were the other Howell finalists. The awards — which are sponsored by C Spire Wireless — were presented at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
More AP college basketball coverage: https://collegebasketball.ap.org/