Ike Diogu, Raymond Felton, Jameer Nelson, and Emeka Okafor head the list of men's pre-season candidates for the 2003-2004 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Awards. Seimone Augustus, Alana Beard, Nicole Ohlde, and Diana Taurasi are leading the women's pre-season candidates. Jackie Bradford, President of the Atlanta Tipoff Club, announced the candidates today. The Naismith Awards program, now in its 36th year, honors the outstanding college basketball players in the United States. The awards program was founded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, an organization dedicated to recognizing the achievements of student-athletes in basketball. The candidates were selected by a vote of the Board of Selectors comprised of leading basketball coaches, journalists, and basketball analysts. Members of the board were asked to name top male and female players who are most likely to be in contention for the award. "Both the men's and women's fields, from top to bottom, are extremely talented," said Bradford. "The race for the Naismith Award will once again be very competitive and exciting."
The pre-season candidates for the Naismith Awards, listed in alphabetical order, are as follows: 2003-04 Pre-Season Naismith Candidates Male Candidates Andre Barrett, Seton Hall Dee Brown, Illinois Josh Childress, Stanford Paul Davis, Michigan State Ike Diogu, Arizona State Chris Duhon, Duke Andre Emmett, Texas Tech Raymond Felton, UNC Channing Frye, Arizona Ben Gordon, U Conn David Harrison, Colorado Chris Hill, Michigan State Julius Hodge, NC State Luke Jackson, Oregon Keith Langford, Kansas Rashad McCants, UNC Marcus Moore, Washington State Brandon Mouton, Texas Jameer Nelson, St. Joseph's Emeka Okafor, U Conn Rickey Paulding, Missouri J.J. Redick, Duke Darius Rice, Miami Romain Sato, Xavier Wayne Simien, Kansas Salim Stoudamire, Arizona Amit Tamir, California Chris Thomas, Notre Dame Hakim Warrick, Syracuse Bracey Wright, Indiana
Last year's Naismith Award recipients were T.J. Ford (University of Texas) and Diana Tarausi (University of Connecticut). The first recipient of the male Naismith Award was Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) of UCLA in 1969. Other college player of the year recipients include many NBA standouts such as Bill Walton, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, and Christian Laettner. The women's Naismith Award, first presented in 1983 to Anne Donovan of Old Dominion, includes recipients such as three-time winner Cheryl Miller of USC, two-time honorees Clarissa Davis of Texas, Chamique Holdsclaw of Tennessee, and Dawn Staley of Virginia.