UAB’s Harris honored as Blazers’ player of the year

Madison native Jala Harris, now a freshman at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, was honored as the team’s most valuable player at an end-of-the year banquet last week.
Harris also was named the Blazers’ Newcomer of the Year and Best Offensive Player.
The former Bob Jones standout averaged 15.8 points and 3.2 assists a game and was named Conference USA’s Freshman and Sixth Player of the Year, becoming the first player in league history to receive both honors in the same season.
Harris was UAB’s leading scorer in 15 of UAB’s games this season. She scored in double figures 24 times, including a Conference USA freshman-record 40 points at Marshall on Jan. 30.
Two other freshmen also racked up awards, as guard Amber Jones received the Best Conditioned Athlete and Best Defense awards, while guard Khalilah Watson took home the Hustle Award. Jones was one of the most consistent players for the Blazers down the stretch, scoring double figures in four of the final five contests. Watson, the team’s vocal leader, started 25 contests, the third-most on the team.
The Most Improved award went to sophomore center Meagan Brown and sophomore guard Miteka Trueheart. Brown had a career-high four blocks against Marshall on Feb. 27 and followed that with a career-best seven points and six rebounds in the opening round of the C-USA tournament against Tulsa. Trueheart’s best performance came in the regular season finale against Memphis, as she scored eight points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out three assists and collected three steals.
Senior forward Tamika Dukes was named the Chairman of the Boards, given to the player with the most rebounds on the season. Dukes grabbed 206 boards on the season and averaged 6.9 a game to go along with her 12.9 points a game, second-best on the team. The Birmingham native had three double-doubles on the season, including back-to-back performances against Memphis and Tulsa.
The Unsung Hero award went to senior forward Erica Simpson. After sitting out the first half of the year due to injuries, the Gary, Ind. native decided to return for the second half of the season.
Sophomore forward TaRonda Randall earned the Academic Award, given to the player with the highest GPA, while junior guard Amanda Peterson received the award for the highest free throw percentage at 82 percent.

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