AUBURN, Ala. – Freshman All-SEC Mustapha Heron was presented the most prestigious award, the Paul Lambert/Tommy Joe Eagles Memorial Trophy for Leadership, as the Tigers were honored at the 28th annual Auburn Basketball Awards Banquet Sunday at Auburn Arena.
The Lambert-Eagles Memorial Trophy is given in memory of Auburn’s 15th head basketball coach, Paul Lambert, who died in a hotel fire on June 6, 1978, in Columbus, Ga., and Tommy Joe Eagles, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack on July 30, 1994, two months after becoming the head coach at New Orleans.
Heron broke Auburn freshman records for 32 starts and scoring in double figures to start a season in his first 25 games. He ranked ninth in the SEC averaging 15.2 points and ranked 14th with 6.1 rebounds per game while shooting 44.2 percent from the floor, 42.3 percent from 3-point range and 77.0 percent from the foul line.
Heron was also awarded plaques for being named Freshman All-SEC and to the SEC Community Service Team.
The Waterbury, Conn., native is Auburn’s first Freshman All-SEC selection since DeWayne Reed in 2007. He created the Mustapha Heron Skills Academy and Reading Program for students at his high school, Sacred Heart, and students in surrounding counties. He has worked with the police department in his hometown on a weapons buy-back program.
Freshman Anfernee McLemore garnered three awards, the Most Improved Player Award, the Bill Lynn Academic Award with a 3.80 GPA and the Iron Tiger Award. McLemore averaged 5.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks while leading SEC freshmen by shooting 68.3 percent from the floor.
Freshman Austin Wiley, who joined the team on Dec. 16 as a 17-year-old after graduating from high school early, earned the Mike Mitchell Courage Award and received a plaque as he was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Jan. 23 after averaging 14.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.0 block in 22.5 minutes in wins over Alabama and LSU. Wiley started 22 of 23 games, averaging 8.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks while shooting 58.4 percent from the floor.
Freshman Jared Harper was one of five players in the SEC to earn at least two Freshman of the Week awards along with Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo and Texas A&M’s Robert Williams. Harper averaged 11.4 points and 3.0 assists in starting 30 games.
Harper earned the award on Dec. 26 after averaging 21.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.0 steals in wins over Oklahoma and at UConn. The Mableton, Ga., native also earned it on Feb. 6 after averaging 17.5 points while shooting 53 percent from the floor and 70 percent (7-of-10) from 3-point range in earning the season sweep at Alabama and vs. Tennessee.
Freshman Danjel Purifoy earned two awards, the Sonny Smith Most Outstanding Teammate Award and John Mengelt Free Throw Award. The Centreville, Ala., native averaged 11.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and ranked sixth in the SEC in free throw pct. (.879), sixth with 2.0 3-pointers made per game, eighth in 3-point pct. (.369) and ninth with 1.4 steals. He made 27 straight free throws to open the season, tying Frankie Sullivan’s record to open the 2009-10 season.
Sophomore Horace Spencer was presented the Rising Waters Academic Award after averaging 4.8 points and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 56.1 percent from the field. The Philadelphia, Pa., native injured his shoulder vs. Tennessee on Jan. 31 and missed the rest of the season, having surgery on Feb. 16.
Graduate transfer Ronnie Johnson earned the Sixth-Man Award after averaging 7.8 points and 2.3 assists in 16.4 minutes per game as the backup point guard. The Indianapolis, Ind., native averaged 10.2 points and 3.1 assists in the final 18 games.
Senior Devin Waddell, who walked-on as a freshman, earned a scholarship as a junior and was the team’s only four-year letterman, won the Coaches’ Award. He will graduate this summer from the Ginn College of Engineering.
The Tip-Off Club’s Sixth-Man Award went to former Auburn Hall of Fame coach and current radio analyst, Sonny Smith while Pearl presented the Head Coaches Award to Eric Ellis, president of the Tip-Off Club.
Auburn, which sold out of season tickets for a school record third consecutive season, had its first winning season since 2008-09 with an 18-14 record and was the only team in the country with freshmen as its top four leading scorers.
The Tigers swept three teams in Alabama, LSU and Missouri for the first time since 2008-09, marking the first time sweeping the Crimson Tide since that same season. The Tigers had six true road wins for the first time since the SEC Champion Tigers in 1998-99, winning at Alabama, NIT Champion TCU, UConn, LSU, Missouri and UAB.
Bruce Pearl became the 21st fastest to 500 wins in his 691st game in Auburn’s 78-74 win over LSU on Jan. 18. He is just behind Lute Olson and ahead of Nolan Richardson.
Auburn broke school records for freshmen starts in a season with 110 starts this year and with 289 made 3-pointers. The Tigers went 3-0 vs. the Big 12 Conference.