Jason Gardner and Luke Walton Named Wooden Award Finalists
March 11, 2003
TUCSON, Ariz. - University of Arizona men's basketball players Jason Gardner and Luke Walton were among 22 student-athletes named to the official ballot for the 2003 Wooden Award All-America Team and Player of the Year, it was announced Tuesday by the John R. Wooden Award Committee.
Each of the 22 players has met the criteria to be considered on the official ballot. In addition to focusing on the important teachings of the Award's namesake, such as team play and strength of character, the criteria includes a prerequisite exclusive to the Wooden Award: scholastic achievement. Each athlete must be making progress toward graduation and must be accredited by his school as maintaining a cumulative 2.0 grade point average.
Fifteen of the 22 candidates are seniors, including Luke Walton, the only 2002 Wooden Award All-American who returns to the ballot for the second consecutive year. Two universities lead the way with two nominated players apiece, including Kansas (Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich) and Arizona (Jason Gardner and Luke Walton).
Gardner, a 5-foot-10, 191-pound senior guard from Indianapolis, Ind., is averaging 14.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.0 assists through 27 games this season. He averages a team-best 34.3 minutes per game, shoots 41.2 percent from the field, including 35.8 percent from three-point range. Gardner has scored in double figures in 21 of 27 games and has passed out at least five assists in a game 15 times in 2002-03. He is the only Arizona player to register at least one double-figure point, rebound and assist game this season. Gardner was named all-Pacific-10 Conference for the third time in his career on Monday.
Walton, a 6-foot-6, 245-pound senior forward from San Diego, Calif., is averaging 10.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists through 23 games. He has three double-doubles to his credit, while shooting 40.8 percent from the floor and 39.0 percent from behind the arc. Walton has 12 double-figure games to his credit this season. Walton was named all-Pacific-10 Conference for the second time in his career on Monday.
The All-American Team will be announced on April 1, and the top five candidates will be invited to attend the awards ceremony April 12 in Los Angeles. These finalists will receive a contribution from the John R. Wooden Award Scholarship Fund in their name to their university's general scholarship fund.
The top-ranked Wildcats (25-2 overall, 17-1 Pac-10) are next in action on Thursday, March 13, against UCLA in the quarterfinals of the 2003 Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. PST and can be seen nationally on Fox Sports Net.
2003 John R. Wooden Award National Ballot
(players are listed alphabetically)
Mario Austin 6'9' Jr. F/C Mississippi St.Troy Bell 6'1' Sr. G Boston CollegeSteve Blake 6'3' Sr. G MarylandMatt Bonner 6'10' Sr. F FloridaNick Collison 6'9' Sr. F KansasBrian Cook 6'10' Sr. F IllinoisChris Duhon 6'1' Jr. G DukeT.J. Ford 5'10' So. G TexasReece Gaines 6'6' Sr. G LouisvilleJason Gardner 5'10' Sr. G ArizonaKirk Hinrich 6'3' Sr. G KansasJosh Howard 6'6' Sr. F Wake ForestBrandin Knight 6'0' Sr. G PittsburghKyle Korver 6'7' Sr. F CreightonEmeka Okafor 6'9' So. F/C ConnecticutHollis Price 6'1' Sr. G OklahomaRon Slay 6'8' Sr. F TennesseeMike Sweetney 6'8' Jr. F GeorgetownChris Thomas 6'1' So. G Notre DameDwyane Wade 6'4' Jr. G MarquetteLuke Walton 6'8' Sr. F ArizonaDavid West 6'9' Sr. F Xavier