March 10, 2003
NORMAN, Okla. - The John R. Wooden Award Committee today announced the 22 student-athletes named to the official ballot for the 2003 Wooden Award All-American Team and Player of the Year, presented annually to the nation's top collegiate basketball player, and Oklahoma senior Hollis Price is among the 22. The 27th annual Wooden Award Ceremony will be televised live from the Los Angeles Athletic Club on Saturday, April 12.
"We never imagined the selection process would be so difficult this year, which is testimony to the wealth of talent that exists in college basketball today, said Richard "Duke" Llewellyn, founder and chairman of the Wooden Award. "The Wooden Award National Advisory Board feels that these 22 players are the most deserving for consideration, and we applaud each of them for their outstanding effort both on and off the court. At this point, the race is wide open, and it's all in the hands of the voters now."
A panel of over 1,000 voters comprised of sports media members and college basketball experts from around the nation will have until noon pacific time on Monday, March 31 to cast their votes for the 10-member All-American team and Wooden Award honor as the most outstanding collegiate basketball player in the United States. While other player of the year awards are voted upon prior to postseason play, the Wooden Award opts for the later March 31 deadline because it allows voters to evaluate players up until the final four has been determined.
This year's ballot includes players from nine NCAA conferences, including the Big East (5), Big 12 (4), SEC (4), ACC (2), Pac-10 (2), Big Ten (2), Conference USA (2), Atlantic 10 (1) and Missouri Valley (1). Fifteen of the 22 candidates are seniors, including Luke Walton, the only 2002 Wooden Award All-American who returns to the ballot for the second consecutive year. Two universities lead the way with two nominated players apiece, including Kansas (Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich) and Arizona (Jason Gardner and Luke Walton).
Two players who were not included on the midseason top-30 candidate list were voted onto the official ballot. After a slow start, Troy Bell has played phenomenally during the latter part of the season, guiding Boston College to a likely NCAA tournament bid. Tennessee's Ron Slay has rebounded from the torn ACL he suffered at the end of last season to become one of the frontrunners for the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year.
Each of the 22 players has met the criteria to be considered on the official ballot. In addition to focusing on the important teachings of the Award's namesake, such as team play and strength of character, the criteria includes a prerequisite exclusive to the Wooden Award: scholastic achievement. Each athlete must be making progress toward graduation and must be accredited by his school as maintaining a cumulative 2.0 grade point average.
The All-American Team will be announced on April 1, and the top five candidates will be invited to attend the awards ceremony in Los Angeles. These finalists will receive a contribution from the John R. Wooden Award Scholarship Fund in their name to their university's general scholarship fund. The Wooden Award scholarship fund was established in 2002 by Applied Materials and corporate partners through the California Community Foundation (CCF) to honor Coach Wooden's dedication as an educator. The scholarship fund distributed a total of $75,000 to five universities last year, enabling 23 deserving students to pursue their educational goals. Anyone interested may contribute directly to the scholarship fund through the CCF (www.calfund.org).
The 2003 Award ceremony, including the introduction of the Wooden Award All-American team and the presentation of the Legends of Coaching Award to University of Kansas Coach Roy Williams, will be held at the Los Angeles Athletic Club on Saturday, April 12. Tickets for the black tie John R. Wooden Award Banquet, to be held at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 13 at the Omni Hotel, are available for $150 by calling the Los Angeles Athletic Club at 213-630-5255.
Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball. It is bestowed upon the nation's best player at an institution of higher education who has proven to his university that he is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA. Previous winners include such notables as Michael Jordan ('84), Larry Bird ('79), Tim Duncan ('97) and last year's recipient, Jason Williams ('02). Tabulation for all voting is calculated by Deloitte & Touche.
2003 John R. Wooden Award National Ballot
(players are listed alphabetically)
Mario Austin, Mississippi State
Troy Bell, Boston College
Steve Blake, Maryland
Matt Bonner, Florida
Nick Collison, Kansas
Brian Cook, Illinois
Chris Duhon, Duke
T.J. Ford, Texas
Reece Gaines, Louisville
Jason Gardner, Arizona
Kirk Hinrich, Kansas
Josh Howard, Wake Forest
Brandin Knight, Pittsburgh
Kyle Korver, Creighton
Emeka Okafor, Connecticut
Hollis Price, Oklahoma
Ron Slay, Tennessee
Mike Sweetney, Georgetown
Chris Thomas, Notre Dame
Dwyane Wade, Marquette
Luke Walton, Arizona
David West, Xavier