Oct. 24, 2007
LOS ANGELES - Washington State University men's basketball seniors Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver are among the 50 preseason candidates for the Men's 2007-08 John R. Wooden Award, the nation's most coveted college basketball award, the Los Angeles Athletic Club's Wooden Award Committee announced Wednesday.
The Award is named for the three-time college basketball All American, 1932 Player of the Year and 10-time national championship coach at UCLA.
Last season Low and Weaver led the Cougars in scoring with 13.7 and 11.2 points per game, respectively. In 2006-07, the backcourt duo became the first WSU student-athletes to earn Pacific-10 All-Conference honors since 1995-96. They also became the first Cougars to represent the United States in men's basketball at the Pan American Games with their selections to the team in the summer of 2007.
"For Derrick and Kyle to be chosen as two of 50 preseason candidates for the prestigious Wooden Award is great recognition for them and the team," WSU Head Coach Tony Bennett said. "They're both smart enough guys to know that when their team does well and has success, it enables them to have opportunities to be chosen on a list of 50 or represent the U.S. in the Pan American Games. There's probably not much time to think about it right now, but hopefully at the end of their careers, when they look at some of their accomplishments from an individual standpoint, they'll feel good about it."
Low and Weaver are one of just five sets of teammates to make the list, joining fellow Pacific-10 member, UCLA's Darren Collison and Josh Shipp, North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson, Kansas's Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush and Georgetown's Roy Hibbert and Johnathan Wallace. More than 100 players received at least one vote. Two returning Wooden All-Americans made the list, UNC's Hansbrough and Kansas's Rush.
"The committee had a tough time deciding on just 50 candidates, with so many returning talented players across the country," said Duke Llewellyn, Wooden Award chairman. "Some teams even had several worthy candidates. Our team at the John R. Wooden Award is excited to see the best players in the nation compete against each other all season, as they vie to be named college basketball's player of the year."
The list is composed of 50 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 50 candidates are comprised of returning players. Transfers, freshmen, and medical redshirts are not eligible for this preseason list, but will be evaluated and considered for both the Midseason Top 30 list and the National Ballot. Players not on the preseason list are eligible for the midseason top 30 and ballot. Last year, Kevin Durant of the University of Texas was the first freshman to win the Wooden Award.
A total of 16 NCAA conferences are represented. The Pac-10 leads the way with 10 Wooden Award All American team candidates. Other conferences include the Big East (eight players), the ACC (seven players), the Big 12 (six players), the SEC (five players), the Big Ten (two players), the Sun Belt (two players), Western Athletic (two players), Conference USA (one player), Southern Conference (one player), Missouri Valley (one player), the Horizon League (one player), the Colonial Athletic Association (one player), the Big South (one player), West Coast (one player) and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (one player).
"The Pac-10 is a great league," Bennett said. "I thought it was outstanding last year and people say it's going to be even better this year, which is both impressive and intimidating all in one. I know fans will see such high level individual players and teams this year, which will make for a great, competitive league race. The Pac-10 is loading up with talent and becoming the marquee league in the country."
In January, the Wooden Award committee will release the Midseason Top 30 list, followed by the distribution of the National Ballot to more than 1,000 voters in early March. The 10-player Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced the Tuesday after the "Elite Eight" round of the NCAA Tournament is completed.
The 2008 Award ceremony, which will include the presentation of the Men's and Women's John R. Wooden Award, the Wooden Award All-American Teams, and the Legends of Coaching Award to recipient Pat Summitt of the University of Tennessee, will be held at The Los Angeles Athletic Club the weekend of April 11-13, 2008. The top five male and female finalists will be invited to Los Angeles for the Award's ceremony and will receive a contribution from The Los Angeles Athletic Club for their university's general scholarship fund. One of these five players will be named the John R. Wooden Award Player of the Year at a live televised announcement from The Club where he is awarded the prestigious five-figured bronze trophy.