LOS ANGELES -- After tallying the ballots of the National Advisory Board, the John R. Wooden Award announced the top 30 preseason candidates for the 2006-07 Women's Wooden Award. The list is composed of 30 student athletes who, based on last year's individual performance and team records, are the early frontrunners for college basketball's most coveted trophy. These top 30 candidates are comprised of returning players, although transfers, freshmen, medical redshirts and other players who excel throughout the season will be evaluated and considered for both the Midseason Top 20 list and the National Ballot. Players not on the preseason list are eligible for the midseason list and ballot.
"Over 60 players from across the country received at least one vote for the preseason list, which points to the parity in the women's game today," said Mike Solum, director of the Wooden Award. "This list represents the elite of college basketball, and our entire team at the Wooden Award is excited to see the best players in the nation prove their case as basketball's player of the year."
Two of this season's preseason candidates were honored last year as members of the 2006 Women's Wooden Award All-American Team, including Ivory Latta (North Carolina) and Courtney Paris (Oklahoma).
Paris began her 2006-07 campaign with 19 points, nine rebounds and six blocks in an exhibition win against Lake Truck on Wednesday. Paris was a consensus All-American and the National Freshman of the Year last season after averaging 21.9 points and 15.0 rebounds.
In addition, seven other 2006-07 preseason nominees were in the running for last year's Wooden Award and named to the official voting ballot, including Jessica Davenport (Ohio State), Jessica Dickson (South Florida), Sylvia Fowles (LSU), Tasha Humphrey (Georgia), Crystal Langhorne (Maryland), Candace Parker (Tennessee), and Candace Wiggins (Stanford).
Eight NCAA conferences are represented, including the ACC (eight players), SEC (six players), Big East (four players), Big 12 (four players), Pac 10 (four players), Conference USA (two players), Big Ten (one player), and Sun Belt (one player). Two schools had three players nominated; Maryland (Marissa Coleman, Shay Doron, and Crystal Langhorne) and North Carolina (Erlana Larkins, Ivory Latta, and Camille Little). Three schools had two players nominated including Rutgers (Matee Ajavon and Kia Vaughn), Duke (Alison Bales and Lindsay Harding), and Tennessee (Alexis Hornbuckle and Candace Parker).
All of last year's Final Four teams boast at least one representative on the preseason team including North Carolina (Larkins, Latta, and Little), Duke (Bales and Harding), LSU (Fowles), and Marissa Coleman, Shay Doron, and Crystal Langhorne of the 2006 National Champion Maryland Terrapins.
In mid-January, the Wooden Award Committee will release the Midseason Top 20 list, followed in March by the official voting ballot, consisting of approximately 15 top players who have proven to their universities that they are also making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA. The 2007 Award ceremony, which will include the presentation of the Men's and Women's Wooden Award, the Wooden Award All-American Teams and the Legends of Coaching Award to Purdue's Gene Keady, will be held at The Los Angeles Athletic Club on April 7, 2007. The top five male and female finalists will be invited to Los Angeles for the Awards ceremony and will receive a contribution from The Los Angeles Athletic Club in their name to their university's general scholarship fund.
Complete List of Candidates
About the John R. Wooden Award
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 or her university that he or she is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA. Previous winners include such notables as Larry Bird ('79), Michael Jordan ('84), Tim Duncan ('97), Andrew Bogut ('05), and last year's recipients, Seimone Augustus ('06) and J.J. Redick ('06).
Since its inception, the John R. Wooden Award has contributed close to a million dollars to universities' general scholarship fund in the names of the All-American recipients as well as sent over 1,000 underprivileged children to week-long college basketball camps in the awards name. Additionally, the John R. Wooden Award partners with Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) each year to host the Wooden Award Special Olympics Southern California Basketball Tournament. The day-long tournament, which brings together Special Olympic athletes and the All-American selections, takes place at The Los Angeles Athletic Club on the Friday prior to the John R. Wooden Award Ceremony.