Griffin One of Four Naismith Finalists

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma

March 22, 2009

ATLANTA -- Three conference players of the year and the defending winner headline the list of finalists for the 2009 Naismith Men's College Player of the Year Award presented by AT&T, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Sunday.  Oklahoma's Blake Griffin, the top player in the Big 12, Pittsburgh's DeJuan Blair and Connecticut's Hasheem Thabeet, the Big East Co-Players of the Year, and North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough make up the final ballot. 
The winner will be named at the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Guardians of the Game awards program on Sunday, April 5 in Detroit. 
The finalists were voted on by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country. The board based its criteria on player performances this season. The vote was tabulated and certified by the accounting firm of Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, LLP.
"The finalists have enjoyed outstanding individual successes while leading their respective schools to tremendous seasons," said Gary Stokan, Atlanta Tipoff Club president.  "That underscores the meaning of a true leader, something that is inherent in the Naismith Trophy."

Vote Blake Griffin for Naismith Trophy:
Text VOTE to 51234 | You will then receive a ballot via text message and can submit your choice
Voting ends Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 8 p.m. (CT) | Standard text rates apply

This season marks the 40th anniversary of the first Naismith Trophy, which was presented to UCLA's Lew Alcindor, who is known today as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. At the time, the Atlanta Tipoff Club, founded during the 1956-57 basketball season, was looking to create a national identity for its brand and created the award to honor the best basketball player in the nation. Alcindor, along with UCLA head coach John Wooden, flew to Atlanta in the spring of 1969 to receive the trophy.  Today, the Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T is regarded as the most prestigious national basketball award and is given annually to the men's college basketball player of the year.
For the sixth consecutive season, presenting sponsor AT&T will once again set the standard in allowing fans to participate in determining this year's winner. Through the power and ease of text messaging, fan voting will account for an unprecedented 25 percent of the final results - more than any other national college basketball award. 
Beginning today, AT&T wireless customers -- and sports fans on other wireless networks -- will be able to text their votes for the player of their choice.  Fans can register to vote by texting VOTE to 51234.  After registering, fans will receive a ballot via text message which allows them to respond with their choice among the remaining Naismith finalists.  Standard text rates apply.
Voting for the Naismith Trophy Men's College Basketball Player of the Year will end on Saturday, April 4, 2009, at 8 p.m. (CT).   AT&T is making the voting open to other wireless carriers allowing even more fans to participate. Other wireless carriers must opt-in for their subscribers to participate.
Blake Griffin:
The 6-10 sophomore leads the Big 12 in scoring (22.5 ppg), rebounding (14.4 rpg) and field goal percentage (.646) while ranking fourth in blocked shots (1.2 bpg).  The Big 12 coaches' preseason choice for player of the year, Griffin has set a single-season OU record with his 28 double-doubles (tying the Big 12 record).  He has already set OU and Big 12 single-season marks with his 474 rebounds.  The Oklahoma City native also has 14 games of at least 20 points and 15 rebounds this year, eclipsing the previous league record of seven.
DeJuan Blair: The only unanimous All-Big East First Team selection, Blair averaged 15.6 points and a league-leading 12.4 rebounds per game.  He  ranks among national leaders in offensive rebounding (first), total rebounding (fourth) and field goal percentage (16th).  The 6-7 sophomore and Pittsburgh native helped lead the Panthers to a 28-3 record and the school's first-ever No. 1 ranking.
Tyler Hansbrough: Hansbrough was a first-team All-ACC performer who led North Carolina to a 28-4 season and regular-season ACC championship, while averaging 21.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.  The 6-9 senior from Poplar Bluff, Mo., helped the Tar Heels gain a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament's South Regional.  The reigning Naismith Trophy winner is the third Tar Heel (Michael Jordan, 1984 and Antawn Jamison, 1998) and the 16th player from the ACC to win the award.  He is a three-time finalist for the Naismith Trophy.
Hasheem Thabeet: The Big East Defensive Player of the Year and first-team all-conference selection averaged 13.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.  His average of 4.5 blocks per game was tops in the Big East and second in the nation.   The 7-3 junior center from Tanzania helped lead the Huskies to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
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Courtesy Atlanta Tipoff Club