Austin Smellie was named Most Inspirational Player, Bengal of the Year and received the Captain award along with teammate Tarik Cool last week at Idaho State University during the 69th Annual Samuel Horne Bennion Banquet Awards for men’s basketball. The awards were announced digitally due to concerns about COVID-19.
Smellie played and started in all 24 games and averaged 33.4 minutes a game, 8.5 points and 3.5 rebounds. He had a career-high of 24 points at Northern Arizona University on Jan. 9, on 8 of 10 shooting. Smellie played 42 minutes vs. Idaho on Feb. 13, had seven rebounds vs. Montana State on March 11, six assists vs. SAGU American Indian College on Dec. 18, and had three steals in three different games.
The Captains award, sponsored by Pauline Thiros, and was voted upon by the team for who would “lead them in the right direction,” Coach Ryan Looney told Thiros during the broadcast announcing the awards.
The Most Inspirational Player player award was sponsored by Platinum Directional Drilling. “Austin has been Mr. Consistent for us especially this past year during some tough times,” Looney said. “I think his teammates knew what to expect from him every day. A lot of days he led by example, but he did a good job using his voice too.”
Smellie was named Bengal of the Year, sponsored by TanaBell Health Services, for the second straight season. “Huge award for Austin,” Looney said. “We give it to the person who is the most coachable, or maybe who represents our program the best. Austin definitely does that. He gives a consistent effort every day whether it’s in practice, in the weight room or in the classroom. He obviously excels for us on the floor but he is also a guy who is on the Dean’s list both semesters too.”
Also honored was Brayden Parker who recently married another college athlete from Preston, Sadie Garner. He received the Bennion Most Improved Award sponsored by Joel Moersch. After missing all of last season due to an injury he “did a good job of getting his body in shape and improving in different ways other than just his performance on the court.”
Parker also played and started in all 24 games and received honorable mention all-conference. He was named Big Sky Player of the Week for his performances at Northern Colorado where he had 21 points on 8 of 11 shooting and 10 rebounds on Dec. 22. He also scored 26 points on 8 of 13 shooting in a win on Dec. 23, averaged 25.3 minutes a game and shot 50.5 percent from the field.
“A big part of what we do is throw the ball into the post so we needed a consistent back to the basket player,” Looney said. “When he got healthy and got an opportunity to have an impact this past year, he had some huge games for us.”