Blue, Willis Nominated For Bayer Advantage® Senior CLASS Award
Dec. 1, 2005
UCLA senior guards Nikki Blue and Lisa Willis are amongst 30 seniors nominated for the 2005-06 Bayer Advantage® Senior CLASS Award. The award is given annually to the nation's senior player-of-the-year for NCAA Division I men's and women's basketball.
Blue is a Wade Trophy and Wooden Award pre-season selection. A three-time first-team All-Pac-10 performer, she earned honorable mention All-America honors by AP and the WBCA in 2004-05 after a season in which she averaged 16.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 3.4 steals per game. Blue is just the second Bruin player in history to record over 1,300 points and 400 assists in her career, and she currently ranks in UCLA's all-time Top 10 in points (10th - 1,462), assists (6th - 436), and steals (5th - 269). This season, she is averaging 13.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.2 steals for the 23-ranked Bruins. She is also shooting 59.5% from the field (22-37) and 89.5% from the free throw line (17-19).
Willis is coming off a summer in which she helped Team USA win the gold medal at the 2005 World University Games. She averaged 9.4 points in the tournament and scored 13 in the gold medal match. Willis, who was named by Nancy Lieberman of ESPN as the nation's top defender, earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors a year ago after averaging 16.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.9 steals per game. She ranked sixth in the nation in steals and 25th in three-point shots per game. Willis is off to a big start in 2005-06, averaging 21 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game. She has scored 20 points or more in three consecutive games and has been in double-figure scoring in 22 straight contests. She was named this week's Pac-10 Player of the Week after receiving Tournament MVP honors at the LMU/Ayres Hotel Thanksgiving Classic.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Class Award was launched during the 2001-02 season in response to the trend of college basketball players leaving college early to turn professional.
From the list of 30 nominees for each gender, a national media committee will select 10 finalists for the award in February as the conference season hits its peak. Those ten names will be placed on the official ballot for a nationwide voting process during the NCAA Tournament in March. Fan balloting will be coupled with results from voting by coaches and media to determine the male and female winner. The winner will be announced during the CBS telecast of the NCAA Men's Final Four next April.
While performance on the basketball court is the defining attribute, candidates must maintain NCAA student-athlete academic standards and be working towards a degree. The foundation of the award is based on commitment to their university and their education while achieving on the basketball court.
2005-06 Women's Nominees
Seimone Augustus, LSU; Nikki Blue, UCLA; Melanie Boeglin, Indiana State; Lindsay Bowen, Michigan State; Tara Booth, Xavier; Monique Currie, Duke; Sakellie Daniels, Charlotte; LaToya Davis, Texas Tech; Megan Duffy, Notre Dame; Candice Dupree, Temple; Emily Faurholt, Idaho; Kari Koch, Missouri State; Kristen Kovesdy, Arizona State; Erin Grant, Texas Tech; Tamara James, Miami; Angie Janis, Creighton; Crystal Kemp, Kansas; Cappie Pondexter, Rutgers; Liz Shimek, Michigan State; Crystal Smith, Iowa; Khara Smith, DePaul; Kim Smith, Utah; Ann Strother, Connecticut; Liad Suez-Karni, Villanova; Shona Thorburn, Utah; Barbara Turner, Connecticut; Mistie Williams, Duke; Lisa Willis, UCLA; Sophia Young, Baylor; Shanna Zolman, Tennessee.