Four Lady Bulldogs Earn SEC Awards
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State senior Diamber Johnson was named Second Team All-SEC Wednesday, while teammates Porsha Porter and Martha Alwal were named to the league's All-Defensive and All-Freshman teams, respectively.
Sophomore Brittany Young also claimed a conference accolade as she was tabbed MSU's representative on the SEC Community Service Team.
Porter and Johnson were also tabbed Third Team All-SEC by College Sports Madness.
"We are excited that Diamber, Porsha and Martha have been selected to receive these SEC honors," Lady Bulldog coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "It's always special to see their hard work and dedication be recognized by the coaches in the league.
"Brittany has done a tremendous job representing Mississippi State on and off the court," Fanning-Otis said. "We are very proud of her willingness to give to others, and I congratulate her on the special recognition of being named to the SEC Community Service Team."
Johnson claimed her first conference accolade a day after being named a finalist for the Gillom Trophy, an award presented annually to Mississippi's top female collegiate basketball player.
The Pontotoc, Miss., native has been one of the SEC's top scorers this season, averaging a league fourth-most 14.7 ppg. She also rates in the top five in assists with 3.8 per contest.
"It's an honor to be named All-SEC," Johnson said. "I'm grateful to the league coaches for acknowledging my accomplishments and efforts in trying to help our team this season."
It has been an eventful campaign for Johnson. She became the seventh Lady Bulldog ever to notch 1,000-career points and 300 assists. Now with 1,038 career points, she enters Thursday's SEC Tournament needing three points to tie former teammate Robin Porter for 18th on MSU's career scoring chart.
Johnson eclipsed the 20-point mark nine times this season, including a career-best 30 in the season opener, becoming the first Lady Bulldog to accomplish the feat since Alexis Rack during the 2009-10 season. She also tallied 20 points in three-straight contests, a first by an MSU player since Tan White in 2005.
Porter has combined with Johnson for one of the SEC's most formidable backcourts. Porter has been an aggressive defender, leading the SEC in steals with a 3.1 average that is 18th-best in the nation.
The Chicago native has tallied a career-best 86 steals, the eighth most in single-season annals and the third-most by a Lady Bulldog senior.
"It was a shock, but I am honored to be named to the All-Defensive team because I feel like my defense brings a lot of energy to the team," Porter said.
Porter also had an outstanding season on the offensive end, rating second on the team and eighth in the SEC with a 13.0 scoring average. She eclipsed the 600-career point mark in MSU's Feb. 12 overtime win against rival Ole Miss.
Porter has been stellar down the stretch for the Lady Bulldogs, pacing the team with a 13.4 average over the regular season's last five games.
Alwal has enjoyed a record-setting rookie year on the defensive end of the floor. She currently leads the SEC and rates 16th in the nation with 2.8 blocked shots per contest. The Worthington, Minn., native's 82 swats are one shy of tying Chanel Mokango for the second-most in a season and the fifth-most on the career chart.
Alwal shattered State's freshman blocks record, bettering former All-American LaToya Thomas' mark in just nine games.
"I am very excited about this honor. It makes me happy that the league's coaches think I am deserving of being on the All-Freshman team," Alwal said. "It's a big deal to me, and I'm honored that I made it."
A 5.3 ppg scorer this year, Alwal paced MSU in rebounding with an SEC sixth-most 7.2 per game.
She established a new single-game freshman record with 22 rebounds against Alcorn State. Ten of those rebounds came on the offensive end, the most since Sophie Ratliff tallied 12 against Shorter College in 1988. Alwal earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors after claiming 11 rebounds and a single-game record 10 blocks in her collegiate debut.
Young has been a big contributor for a Mississippi State program that strives to be very active in giving back to the community.
The Birmingham, Ala., native is an active member of MSU's M-Club student-athlete service organization.
She participates in Bully's Book Blitz, an initiative in which MSU student-athletes encourage reading to local students, State's annual Halloween Carnival, and the Lady Bulldog's Adopt-A-Family program. She also assists with Starkville's Compassion Food Pantry and the SEC's Together We CAN Food Drive.
"It's a great honor. I love giving back to the community and helping any way I can. I'm grateful that they chose me to represent Mississippi State," Young said.
An outstanding student in the classroom, Young also takes time out of her schedule to spread school spirit by helping the M-Club paint paw prints on campus streets.Mississippi State tries to keep its season going as it meets Vanderbilt at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in the opening round of the SEC Tournament in Nashville. The contest will be broadcast on SportSouth, as well as WKBB-FM 100.9 and WXWX-FM 96.3.