Khara Smith Named Wooden Award Finalist

DePaul senior center Khara Smith has been named one of the 18 finalists for the John R. Wooden Women's Player of the Year Award.

LOS ANGELES (March 7, 2006) - The John R. Wooden Award Committee has announced the 18 student-athletes (see attached list) named to the official voting ballot for the 2005-06 Women's Wooden Award All-American Team and Player of the Year, presented annually to the nation's top collegiate basketball player. The winner will be announced on Saturday, April 8, during a national CBS telecast of the John R. Wooden Award ceremony that will air live at 2 p.m. EST from The Los Angeles Athletic Club.

The National Ballot includes 2004-2005 Wooden Award All-Americans Seimone Augustus (LSU), Monique Currie (Duke) and Jessica Davenport (Ohio State). Augustus, last year's Wooden Award winner, ranks first in the nation in scoring (22.4 ppg) while leading the Lady Tigers to a dominant 25-2 record. Not to be outdone, Currie is averaging stellar all-around numbers (16.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg) for the No. 2 Blue Devils, while Davenport leads the Big Ten in points (19.4 ppg) and blocks (3.1 bpg). Other National Ballot candidates that were in the running for last year's Wooden Award include Cappie Pondexter (Rutgers), Khara Smith (DePaul) and Sophia Young (Baylor). The nation's leading rebounder, Courtney Paris (14.9 rpg), was also named to the Ballot. Megan Duffy of Notre Dame represents the only National Ballot candidate who was not named to the Midseason list.

"The Wooden Award Selection Committee had a tough chore in narrowing the list to the final ballot due to the parity of today's elite players and teams," said Mike Solum, director of the John R. Wooden Award. "We feel that these 18 players are the most deserving for consideration, and we applaud each of them for their outstanding effort both on and off the court."

Eight NCAA conferences are represented on the list, including the ACC, Atlantic 10, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Mountain West, Pac-10 and SEC. The best-represented conferences are the Big East and SEC, which have six and four candidates, respectively. LSU, featuring Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles, is the only team with two National Ballot candidates. In total, nine seniors, three juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen were included on the National Ballot.

In order to be considered for the National Ballot, all players must have been accredited by their university as meeting the Wooden Award criteria which includes making normal progress towards graduation and maintaining a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. It should be noted that all players on the national ballot were deemed eligible as meeting the Wooden Award academic requirements.

A panel of over 200 voters comprised of sports media members and college basketball experts from around the nation will have until 3 p.m. EST on Monday, March 27 to cast their votes for both the five-member All-American Team and Wooden Award recipient as the most outstanding women's collegiate basketball player in the United States. The Wooden Award opts for the March 27 deadline because it allows voters to evaluate players up until the Final Four has been determined.

The 2006 Wooden Award ceremony, which will include the presentation of the Men's and Women's Wooden Award, the Wooden Award All-American Teams, and Legends of Coaching Award recipient Jim Boeheim of Syracuse University, will be held at The Los Angeles Athletic Club on April 8, 2006, and will be broadcast live on a national CBS telecast. The top five male and female finalists will be invited to Los Angeles for the awards ceremony and will receive a contribution from The Los Angeles Athletic Club for their university's general scholarship fund.

Wooden Award 2005-2006 National Ballot

About the Wooden Award

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/her university that he/she is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA. Previous winners include such notables as Larry Bird ('79), Michael Jordan ('84), Tim Duncan ('97), Alana Beard ('04), and last year's recipient, Seimone Augustus ('05).

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