Dec. 11, 2001
NORMAN, Okla. - The University of Oklahoma Naismith Player of the Year candidates LaNeishea Caufield (Ada, Okla.) and Stacey Dales (Brockville, Ontario, Canada) have been named to the 2002 Women's Basketball Senior CLASS Players to Watch List as announced by The Kansas City Club. The Senior CLASS Award - acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School - will be presented to the most outstanding senior in NCAA Division I basketball for both men and women.
The award honors the loyalty of senior student-athletes who have remained committed to their university while also maintaining great achievement on the court and in the classroom.
"It is an honor for two members of our team to be nominated for this award, said OU Coach Sherri Coale. "I can't think of two more deserving people as they have both been exemplary ambassadors for our university."
While the trend of athletes leaving the college ranks to play professionally has been a growing concern in the men's game, it's starting to affect the women's game as well. For the first time ever this past year, two female basketball players decided to leave college early to play in the WNBA.
Dales and Caufield are two of the 30 female players nominated. Ten players will be selected by the national media committee in February and those names will appear on the official ballot. Balloting will be conducted during the month of March and the selection will be made based on a points system that will combine the votes of three voting groups - the national media, basketball coaches and fans.
Dales, a 2001 consensus All-American, was recently voted the Big 12 Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week. The senior became the league's and Oklahoma's all-time assists leader against TCU on Nov. 27. Dales continues to be the team leader in assists, averaging 4.6 per game. She also ranks second on the team in scoring with 15.6 points and fourth in rebounds with 5.1 boards per game.
Caufield, a 5-9 senior, tops the team in scoring with 19.5 points per game, including a career-high 33 points against Montana State last Saturday. She also leads the team in steals with 2.6 thefts per contest and free throw percentage, hitting an impressive 88.5 percent. Caufield has hit 23 straight free throws and needs just four to tie OU's all-time record for most made free throws.
The first annual award recipients will be honored at the Tribute Gala, a black-tie awards dinner held at the Westin Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City, Kan., on Saturday, April 20, 2002.