Jackson Named to preseason Wooden Award list.

Aug. 6, 2003

LOS ANGELES, CA - After tallying the ballots of the National Preseason Selection Committee, the John R. Wooden Award today announced the Wooden Award Preseason All-American Team (see attached), 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. Only returning players are eligible for the Preseason Team, although transfers and freshmen as well as other players who excel throughout the season will be evaluated and considered for the Midseason Top 30 list and the National Ballot.

'The Preseason Selection Committee had a tough chore in preparing this list because there are so many new faces this year,' said Duke Llewellyn, Wooden Award chairman. 'We are eager for the new season to get underway so that we can see which of these players will emerge as the most dominant in college basketball.'

Connecticut's Emeka Okafor, the only Preseason candidate who was honored last year as a member of the 2003 Wooden Award All-American Team, had an impressive season in which he averaged 15.9 points, 11.2 rebounds and 4.7 blocks per game. In addition to Okafor, other Preseason candidates that were mentioned in the running for last year's Wooden award and were named to the official voting ballot include guards Chris Duhon (Duke) and Chris Thomas (Notre Dame).

Ten NCAA conferences are represented, including the Big East (11 players), Big 12 (10 players), Pac 10 (7 players), Big 10, (5 players), ACC (5 players), SEC (4 players), Conference USA (3 players), Atlantic 10 (2 players), West Coast Conference (2 players), and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (1 player). Several teams stand out with two nominations apiece including Michigan State, Duke, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Arizona, Connecticut, Missouri, Kansas, Florida, Syracuse, Texas, and Gonzaga. Each of last year's Final Four teams boasts at least one representative on the Preseason Team including Syracuse (Gerry McNamara and Hakim Warrick), Texas (James Thomas and Brandon Mouton), Kansas (Wayne Simien and Keith Langford) and Marquette (Travis Diener).

Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball. It is bestowed upon the nation's best player at an institution of higher education who has proven to his university that he is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA. Previous winners include such notables as Michael Jordan ('84), Larry Bird ('79), Tim Duncan ('97) and last year's recipient, T.J. Ford ('03).

The 2004 Award ceremony, which will include the presentation of the Wooden Award All-American team and the presentation of the Legends of Coaching Award, will be held at The Los Angeles Athletic Club on Saturday, April 10, 2004 and will be broadcast live on a CBS telecast.

The top five finalists will receive a contribution from the John R. Wooden Award Scholarship Fund in their name to their university's general scholarship fund. The Wooden Award scholarship fund was established in 2002 by Applied Materials and corporate partners through the California Community Foundation (CCF) to honor Coach Wooden's dedication as an educator. The scholarship fund distributed a total of $75,000 to five universities last year, enabling 23 deserving students to pursue their educational goals. Anyone interested may contribute directly to the scholarship fund through the CCF (www.calfund.org).

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