DES MOINES, Iowa--The Drake Bulldogs men's basketball program commemorated its 2011-12 season Sunday night when the coaching staff presented end-of-the-season awards in a dinner ceremony held at the Sheraton West Des Moines.
Junior forward Ben Simons, who ranked fourth in the MVC in scoring, at 16.4 points per game, took home three of the five top awards. He was named the team's Most Valuable Player, Most Improved and Best Cutter.
Academic awards went to Reece Uhlenhopp (3.75 GPA), Karl Madison (3.2), Cory Parker (3.2) and Aaron Hawley (3.0) for best grade-point averages from spring 2011 to fall 2011. Mitch McLaughlin was recognized for posting a 4.0 GPA in the fall semester, while Greg Whitaker (3.0) and David Smith (3.0) were recognized for the top GPAs in the spring 2011 semester. McLaughlin was given the Academic Excellence Award for compiling a cumulative GPA of 3.83.
Captain Awards were presented to Seth VanDeest, Clarke and Simons.
Seniors in attendance, Greg Whitaker and Cory Parker, were celebrated for their hard work and contributions to the program over their four years. They were given the opportunity to reflect up on their time at Drake.
Joining that duo in saying farewell was Uhlenhopp, who has decided to discontinue his playing career because of a series of chronic injuries that sidelined him for the 2011-12 season.
The 2011-12 Bulldogs won 18 games, most in a season in the four-year tenure of head coach Mark Phelps, and tied for the ninth-most in school history. Drake qualified for a postseason tournament for the third time in the last five years, and Phelps became the first Drake coach since Maury John 50 years ago to compile two winning seasons in his first four in the position.
Drake's third-place finish (9-9, tied with four teams) in the Missouri Valley Conference was its second-highest in the MVC standings in the last 26 years.