Williams, Shakur named to watch list

University of Arizona men's basketball players Mustafa Shakur and Marcus Williams were named to the 2006-07 John R. Wooden Award Preseason All-America team, it was announced Wednesday by the award's national preseason selection committee.

The Wildcat duo is included among a list of 50 student-athletes who are under consideration for the 2007 John R. Wooden Award, which is given annually to college basketball's player of the year. Arizona is one of nine schools nationally to have two or more nominees make the list. All told, seven Pac-10 players are honored.

Shakur, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior guard from Philadelphia, averaged 11.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game in 2005-06. He ranked second in the conference in assists per game, third in assist:turnover ratio (1.8) and ninth in free throw percentage (.806). Shakur shot .423 from the floor (119-of-281), including .333 (24-of-72) from three-point range. He also tallied career highs in field goals (119) and free throws (108) in 33 games last year. Shakur heads into his senior campaign with 950 career points and is tied for ninth place on the school's career assist chart (455). It marks the first time Shakur has been included on the preseason Wooden Award Top 50 list.

Williams, a 6-foot-7, 205-pound sophomore forward from Seattle, averaged 13.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game in 2005-06. A Pac-10 all-freshman pick a year ago, Williams ranked 15th in the conference in scoring, which was tops among first-year players. He shot .453 from the floor (159-of-351), including .435 (30-of-69) from three-point range. He finished in double figures 23 times in 33 games last season and led the Wildcats in scoring seven times, including four of the last six games. It marks the first time Williams has been included on the preseason Wooden Award Top 50 list.

Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is one of the most prestigious honors 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.

In mid-January, the Wooden Award committee will release the midseason top 30. The 10-player John R. Wooden Award All-America team will be announced on Tuesday, March 27.

The 2007 Award ceremony, which will include the presentation of the Men's and Women's Wooden Award, the Wooden Award All-American Teams and the Legends of Coaching Award, will be held at The Los Angeles Athletic Club on April 7, 2007 and will be broadcast live on CBS-TV.

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