Men's Basketball Honors 2012-13 Team At Annual Banquet
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Drake University senior Ben Simons (Cadillac, Mich.) was named the men’s basketball team’s Most Valuable Player during the team’s annual postseason banquet on Sunday afternoon at the Sheraton – West Des Moines.
Two other players and the program’s seniors were honored as Bulldog fans and friends of the program gathered to revisit the 2012-13 season an honor the team’s players.
“Adversity is what really takes and shapes us into the people we’re called to be and it’s the relationships that bind us together,” Drake director of athletics Sandy Hatfield Clubb said in discussing the team to those in attendance. “We saw a lot of that this year. Through adversity, lots of things can happen. But what this team did was bind together in a very strong and powerful way. That’s what led us to special wins. I could not be more proud of this basketball program.”
Hatfield Clubb also recognized the program’s three seniors, saying, “The special things that you did off the court and the way that you represented Drake University day in and day helps lay the foundation for success that your teammates will take from here.”
Simons earned MVP honors as voted on by his teammates after collecting second team All-MVC for the second straight season by leading the Bulldogs in scoring with 14.1 points per game during his senior season. He also converted on a team-high 78 three-pointers. The stellar senior season capped one of the best careers in Drake history as he leaves the Bulldog program with 1,372 points, the eighth most in Drake history. Additionally his 234 three-pointers are the fourth most by a Bulldog.
Fellow senior Jordan Clarke (Rockville, Md.) was also honored with a pair of awards as the team’s Best Defender and Leading Rebounder. While much of his defensive prowess does not show up on the stat sheet, Clarke did lead the Bulldogs in steals last season with 40 and finished his three-year Drake career with 114 steals, the ninth most in Drake history. On the glass, he was second in the MVC in rebounding in 2012-13 with 8.6 boards per game and his 586 career rebounds rank in the top 20 at Drake. At the DirecTV Classic, he set tournament records for rebounds in a game (18) and total rebounds in the three-game tournament.
The final award of the afternoon, the Most Charges Taken Award went to veteran big man Seth VanDeest (Bettendorf, Iowa). The center stepped in and took a team-high 13 charges during the season that were whistled against opponents in addition to his defensive presence in the lane. As a team, the Bulldogs took 39 charges. Offensively VanDeest averaged 9.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in 22.4 minutes of action.
“To me, Charges Taken, might be the best award someone can be given,” new Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti said. “That means you’ve given your body up for the team, given the opponent a personal and team foul and our basketball.”
Drake legend Dolph Pulliam was also honored prior to his retirement from Drake.
“When you come to a university, as I did in 1965, you have no idea the impact that you’re going to be making,” Pulliam said. “You wish and hope and pray that you’re going to make an impact. That was my goal when I came here. Little did I know how the Lord would bless me and in 48 years, I have made so many wonderful friends.”