Rivers Named to Wooden Award Ballot

DURHAM, N.C. – Freshman guard Austin Rivers is among the 15 Finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, as announced on Tuesday by The Los Angeles Athletic Club. Selected by the Wooden Award National Advisory Board, the ballot is made up of 15 student-athletes who are the frontrunners for college basketball's most prestigious honor.

Rivers, the ACC Rookie of the Year and first team All-ACC selection, finished the regular season tied for seventh in the ACC in scoring at 15.3 points per game, while also ranking ninth in field goal percentage (.442). He has reached double-figures in scoring a team-high 27 times, including eight game with 20 or more points. The Winter Park, Fla., native is also second on the team in assists (67) and steals (29) and third overall with 54 three-point field goals. He is on pace to become the first freshman to lead the team in scoring since Johnny Dawkins in 1983.

Austin Rivers along with Skip Wise (Clemson, 1975), Kenny Anderson (Georgia Tech, 1990), Joe Smith (Maryland, 1994), Stephon Marbury (Georgia Tech, 1996), Antawn Jamison (North Carolina, 1996) and Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina, 2006) are the only freshmen in ACC history to earn first team all-league honors. He was a unanimous selection for ACC Rookie of the Year, becoming just the second player in the 37-year history of the award to sweep the voting.

All 15 players have proven to their universities that they are making progress toward graduation and are maintaining at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA, an important component of the Award insisted upon by Coach Wooden. The Wooden Award All-American Teams will be announced the week of the "Elite Eight" round of the NCAA Tournament, making the Wooden Award unique among college postseason awards.

Ohio State sophomore forward Jared Sullinger is the only player returning from last year's Wooden Award All American Team. A finalist a year ago, Sullinger averages 16.9 points and 9.3 rebounds, while having recorded 12 double-doubles in 2012. Other players with notable statistics chosen to the ballot include Weber State's Damian Lillard, the nation's No. 2 scorer at 24.5 ppg, and the country's top setup man, Scott Machado of Iona, who averages an NCAA-leading 10.1 assists.

Three freshmen made the list, including No. 1 Kentucky's duo of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis. The only other freshman chosen was Duke's Rivers. He joins Marquette's Jae Crowder and Isaiah Canaan of Murray State on the short list of players who did not make the midseason list, but who have played their way onto the Wooden Award ballot the second half of the season.

The Big East had three players chosen, followed by the Big 12, Big 10, ACC, and SEC each with two. The MAAC, Big Sky, Missouri Valley and Ohio Valley conferences had one player chosen to the ballot.

The 36th annual Wooden Award Gala, will take place on Friday, April 6, 2012, and will honor winners, All Americans and the Legends of Coaching winner Geno Auriemma of Connecticut. The John R. Wooden Award winner will be announced on ESPN the weekend of the Final Four in New Orleans, Louisiana.

About the John R. Wooden Award

Created in 1976 and named after the Hall of Fame player, coach and teacher, 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 or her university that he or she is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA. Previous winners include such notables as Larry Bird ('79), Michael Jordan ('84), Tim Duncan ('97), Blake Griffin ('09) and Maya Moore of Connecticut ('09 and '11). BYU's Jimmer Fredette was the Wooden Award winner in 2011.

Since its inception, the John R. Wooden Award has contributed close to a million dollars to universities' general scholarship fund in the names of the All American recipients. The Award has also sent more than 1,000 underprivileged children to week-long college basketball camps in the Award's name. Additionally, the John R. Wooden Award partners with Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) each year to host the Wooden Award Special Olympics Southern California Basketball Tournament. The day-long tournament, which brings together Special Olympic athletes and the All Americans, takes place at The Los Angeles Athletic Club the weekend of the John R. Wooden Award Gala.

Follow the candidates and get the latest news throughout the season by logging on to www.WoodenAward.com or liking the Wooden Award Facebook page. For more information on the John R. Wooden Award, please contact the Wooden Award staff at 213-630-5231 or via email at woodenaward@laac.net.

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