KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The top 30 male and female college basketball players entering their senior season have been nominated for the fourth annual Bayer Advantage® Senior CLASS Award. The award is presented annually to the nation's senior player-of-the-year for NCAA Division I men's and women's basketball. Included among the male nominees are Kansas seniors Keith Langford, Aaron Miles, and Wayne Simien.
The award's organizing committee announced the list of candidates today. From that list, a national media committee will select 10 Finalists for the award next February. When the season reaches the NCAA Tournament in March, nationwide fan balloting will be coupled with results from voting by coaches and media to determine the male and female winner. Legendary sportscaster Dick Enberg, who initiated the idea for the award and now serves as Honorary Chairman, announces the winner during the CBS telecast of the NCAA Men's Final Four.
The male candidates include two First-Team All-Americans from last season who returned for their senior year - Lawrence Roberts of Mississippi State and Ryan Gomes of Providence. The list has representatives from 13 different conferences, led by the Atlantic Coast Conference with six nominees. Four universities have multiple players on the list. Kansas, the nation's top-ranked preseason team, has three seniors among the 30 candidates. Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech and Arizona each have two players.
The list of women's candidates includes representatives from 10 conferences. The Big 12 Conference leads the way with six, including two players each from Kansas State and Texas. Tennessee and Rutgers also placed two athletes on the list. Last season's women's All-America First and Seconds teams were all seniors, but three Third-Teamers head the 2004-05 nominee list - Shyra Ely of Tennessee, Kendra Wecker of Kansas State and Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers.
The Senior Class Award - an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School - was launched in the 2001-02 college basketball season. It is designed to honor the attributes of seniors who remain committed to their university and elect to pursue the many rewards that a senior season can bring.
"The award is designed to return the prestige and dignity of being a senior college basketball player," Enberg said. "It's not intended to say that leaving early for pro basketball is wrong, rather to celebrate those who do decide to return for a senior season."
The remarkable story of Shane Battier returning to lead Duke to the national championship in 2002 inspired the inception of the award. The inaugural men 's award winner was Juan Dixon of Maryland, followed by David West of Xavier in 2003 and Jameer Nelson of St. Joseph's in 2004.
A women's award was also established to encourage a continued emphasis on senior leadership. Sue Bird of Connecticut was the first women's winner, followed by LaToya Thomas of Mississippi State and Duke's Alana Beard.
"Bayer is committed to supporting the educational process of our nation's young people," said Jeff Gaidos, Vice President - Marketing, Bayer HealthCare LLC, Animal Health Division. "College basketball provides many life lessons for student athletes. We are thrilled to honor those players who capitalize on the full opportunities available as a collegian."
The Bayer Advantage Senior Class Award winners will receive their awards at the fourth annual Tribute Gala, scheduled for Saturday, April 30, 2005 in Kansas City. The event is hosted by the Pride of Kansas City Foundation industry.
2004-05 Bayer Advantage® Senior CLASS Award Candidates
Taylor Coppenrath University of Vermont
Travis Diener Marquette University
B.J. Elder Georgia Tech University
Daniel Ewing Duke University
Channing Frye University of Arizona
Ryan Gomes Providence College
Joey Graham Oklahoma State University
Danny Granger University of New Mexico
Michael Harris Rice University
Chuck Hayes University of Kentucky
Chris Hill Michigan State University
Julius Hodge North Carolina State
Keith Jackson Xavier University
Keith Langford University of Kansas
David Lee University of Florida
Jamaal Levy Wake Forest University
John Lucas, Jr. Oklahoma State University
Jason Maxiell University of Cincinnati
Juan Mendez Niagara University
Aaron Miles University of Kansas
Spencer Nelson Utah State University
Roger Powell, Jr. University of Illinois
Lawrence Roberts Mississippi State University
Luke Schenscher Georgia Tech University
Wayne Simien University of Kansas
Salim Stoudamire University of Arizona
Chris Thomas University of Notre Dame
Ronny Turiaf Gonzaga University
Hakim Warrick Syracuse University
Jawad Williams University of North Carolina
Jacqueline Batteast University of Notre Dame
Nikita Bell University of North Carolina
Steffanie Blackmon Baylor University
Natasha Brackett Auburn University
Ashley Burke Gonzaga University
Jamie Carey University of Texas
Jessalyn Deveny Boston College
Shyra Ely University of Tennessee
Katie Feenstra Liberty University
Kristin Haynie Michigan State University
Sandora Irvin Texas Christian University
Dionnah Jackson University of Oklahoma
Temeka Johnson Louisiana State University
Lauri Koehn Kansas State University
Cathrine Kraayeveld University of Oregon
Sancho Lyttle University of Houston
Kristen Mann California - Santa Barbara
Caity Matter Ohio State University
Janel McCarville University of Minnesota
Jessica Moore University of Connecticut
Loree Moore University of Tennessee
Chelsea Newton Rutgers University
Cappie Pondexter Rutgers University
Heather Schreiber University of Texas
Charlene Smith DePaul University
Kelley Suminski Stanford University
Kendra Wecker Kansas State University
Dee-Dee Wheeler University of Arizona
Tan White Mississippi State University
Tanisha Wright Penn State University