March 3, 2011
NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma’s Whitney Hand was named a finalist for the 11th Annual V Foundation Comeback Award Thursday.
The award is presented in memory of Jim Valvano, the late basketball coach and ESPN commentator, whose personal battle with cancer inspired the creation of The V Foundation. In his memorable speech at ESPN’s inaugural ESPY Awards announcing the creation of The V Foundation, Valvano’s “Don’t Give Up . . . Don’t Ever Give Up!”® motto created a legacy from which the Comeback Award was created.
“This year’s finalists for The V Foundation Comeback Award truly exemplify courage and determination in the face of adversity,” V Foundation CEO Nick Valvano said. “The nominees are exemplary young people who embody The V Foundation’s “Don’t Give Up” attitude.”
Open to men and women collegiate basketball student-athletes in all divisions, the honor is awarded to an individual or a team who has accomplished a personal triumph in the face of true adversity, be it in health, life or moral dilemma. The award is presented in conjunction with ESPN and the recipient will be announced during ESPN’s basketball tournament coverage in early April.
The other finalists are Jessica Breland, North Carolina; Dawn Evans, James Madison; Jacki Gemelos, USC; Angel Goodrich, Kansas; Levi Knutson, Colorado; Andrea “Drey” Mingo, Purdue; Cory Pflieger, Rice; Thomas Robinson, Kansas; Kim Rodgers, Maryland; and Krystal Thomas, Duke.
Hand started all 33 games of OU’s 2009 Final Four season and was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year. In the fifth game of the next season, she suffered an ACL tear that eventually would require her miss 45 games, a 401-day absence until returning with a career-best game in her hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, on Jan. 2.
Despite not being able to play, Hand continued to lead her teammates off the court and used the opportunity of occupying the seat next to head coach Sherri Coale during games to continue to grow her knowledge of the sport. She attacked rehabilitation and inspired those around her during the process.
Hand continues to play through pain and averages 11.6 points and 5.1 rebounds as she has helped Oklahoma complete its sixth straight 20-win season and lock a third-place finish in the Big 12 Conference as the Sooners look to make a third consecutive trip to the Final Four.
The V Foundation for Cancer Research
The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano, legendary North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN commentator. Since 1993, The Foundation has raised more than $100 million to fund cancer research grants nationwide. It awards 100 percent of all direct cash donations and net proceeds of events directly to cancer research and related programs. Administrative and fundraising expenses are paid by the Foundation’s endowment. The Foundation awards grants through a competitive awards process strictly supervised by a Scientific Advisory Board. For more information on The V Foundation or to make a donation, please visit www.jimmyv.org.