JACKSON — Quinndary and Nick Weatherspoon competed against and pushed each other from as early as they can remember.
Whether it was in baseball, basketball, football, racing, or pretty much everything, the Weatherspoon brothers brought out the best in each other.
On Monday, Nick received a piece of added motivation to compete even harder against his brother after Quinndary was named the winner of the Howell Trophy, which is given annually to the best men’s college basketball player in the state of Mississippi.
“It is a compliment for us to get recognized and it is great for our family,” Quinndary said. “Knowing how we grew up and where we came from, we used to do this in the back yard in the dirt. Now we’re doing it on the collegiate level, I think it is great.”
Quinndary was a nominee for the award last year, but Ole Miss’ Sebastian Saiz won it. Weatherspoon breaks a five-year run of winners from Ole Miss.
Weatherspoon leads MSU (21-10) in scoring (14.7 ppg.). He is sixth in the Southeastern Conference in steals (1.5) and eighth in assists (3.5). He also averages 5.9 rebounds per game.
In December, Weatherspoon, a 6-foot-4 junior, became the 37th player in school history to score 1,000 points. He ranks 19th all time with 1,305 points.
An All-SEC selection and a member of the Wooden Award watch list, the Canton native led MSU to its 18th 20-plus win in school history. He scored in double-digits 26 times and posted two double-doubles.
Weatherspoon is the first MSU player to win the award since Arnett Moultrie in 2012. MSU has won the award six times — Lawrence Roberts (2005), Jamont Gordon (2008), and Jarvis Varnado (2009 and 2010).
MSU coach Ben Howland praised the parents of Quinndary and Nick, Sharon and Tommie Weatherspoon, for the way they have raised their sons.
“Nick is going to be one of the best players in the history of Mississippi State when it is all said and done,” Howland said. “I am really proud to be his coach.
“Q is maturing. He was All-Freshman team as a freshman. He was All-SEC last year. He has improved every year steadily.”
Quinndary said his parents weren’t “strict.” He said they provided understanding and let them make their own decisions and supported them so much that they had a great support system behind them. He said it was special for Howland to talk about his parents and to have them be recognized for what they have done to help them get to this point.
Howland said Quinndary’s improvement is even more special because he had wrist surgery and couldn’t work on his game in the offseason. Still, Howland said Quinndary has had a “phenomenal” year and that he is really proud of the leadership he has brought to the team.
“Great players make other people around them better, and that is what he has really shown this year,” Howland said.
Howland said Quinndary and Nick take pride in making each other better. He said the brothers “go at it” against each other in practice and “hold each other accountable in terms of effort, pride and unselfish.”
Nick Weatherspoon, a 6-2 freshman guard, is second on the team in scoring (11.1 ppg.). He also averages 2.9 rebounds per game. Nick said it means a lot to him that he was recognized, especially as a freshman.
“I didn’t think I was going to be here,” Nick said. “I am just thankful to be here and thankful to God.”
Weatherspoon said he entered college knowing he would be able to play defense against opponents. He said he takes pride in his development as an offensive player. Nick said he is proud of Quinndary for winning the award. He said he was “pretty sure” Quinndary was going to win it, and that he thought he should have won it in previous years, too.
Now that Quinndary has won his first Howell Trophy, Nick said it will be a source of motivation for him to equal his brother’s accomplishments, just like it was for both of them growing up and competing against each other.
Quinndary, who said he never lost to his brother, agreed and feels winning the award will provide him with just as much motivation as it will for Nick.
Southern Mississippi’s Cortez Edwards was the other finalist. Edwards wasn’t able to attend the ceremony at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame because Southern Miss was traveling to Texas for the Conference USA tournament.
The award is named after former MSU great Bailey Howell.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter@ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.