Both athletes helped lead their respective USA Basketball teams to gold medals this summer in international competition.
"The USA Basketball Executive Committee selected two very deserving athletes for this award," said USA Basketball Executive Director Jim Tooley. "Seimone's performance in the 2003 World Championship for Young Women was tremendous as she was named the tournament MVP and led our team to the gold medal. While she was the youngest player on the team, her unselfish style of play made her a leader on the court and a valuable asset to the team."
"Tim Duncan is a USA Basketball veteran. His outstanding efforts at the 2003 Olympic Qualification Tournament, in which he led the team in both scoring and rebounding, earned him all-tournament team honors and guided the team to a perfect 10-0 mark, the gold medal and a spot in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Tim is a tremendous talent and we look forward to having him on the Olympic team.
With the honor, Augustus and Duncan not only are eligible for the 2003 U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) Female and Male Athlete of the Year Awards which will be announced by the USOC at a later date, but they also enter into impressive company of previous USA Basketball honorees.
In its 24th year, the USA Basketball Athlete of the Year award has been garnered by notable athletes such as Ray Allen (1995), Teresa Edwards (1987, 1990, 1996, 2000), Michael Jordan (1983, 1984, as a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team), Lisa Leslie (1993, 1998, 2002), Katrina McClain (1988, 1992), Cheryl Miller (1984, 1986), Reggie Miller (2002), Alonzo Mourning (1990, 2000), Shaquille O'Neal (1994), Gary Payton (1999), Scottie Pippen (as a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team, 1996), David Robinson (1986, as a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team), Dawn Staley (1994), Isiah Thomas (1980) and Lynette Woodard (1983).
"I'm excited about this," said Augustus. "It's a real big accomplishment for me, especially after not making the team the first two years, to come out and do so well this summer and to end it this way is great. It's a very, very high honor. Looking at the other women who have earned this, I can only look forward to being like them one day, playing in the Olympics, WNBA and things like that. It's exciting.
"Playing this summer built up my confidence a lot for this year. It made me a better player. Coach (Jim) Foster helped me out a lot by helping me be more of a leader on my team, helping me work harder each and every day. Alana (Beard) and all the other players helped me out also, giving me words of advice on anything, any pointers I needed, they gave to me."
After trying out for and failing to make a pair of USA Basketball squads in 2000 and 2001 Augustus, a 6-1 forward, was named to her first USA Basketball team this summer. The youngest member of the U.S. squad, Augustus made the most of her first international basketball outing and was selected as the 2003 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year for her performance at the 2003 FIBA World Championship For Young Women. Earning MVP and All-World Championship For Young Women Team honors after pacing the U.S. to a 7-1 record and the gold medal at the inaugural event, Augustus averaged a team best of 10.6 points and added 3.8 rebounds a game in the Americans' golden quest. Augustus, who started all eight games in Sibenik, Croatia, lit up the nets with a 59.1 percent (39-66 FGs) field goal accuracy touch, which ranked fourth among all competitors at the event.
After scoring eight points in each of the USA's first four contests, Augustus scored 14 against host Croatia, 11 against Australia in the quarterfinals and 10 points in the USA's semifinal victory over France. In the gold medal game and facing Brazil, the only team that defeated the U.S. in preliminary round action, Augustus scored a game high 18 points as the United States avenged its earlier loss with a 71-55 gold medal victory.
Prior to arriving in Croatia, Augustus and the USA warmed up for the young women's Worlds by facing Australia and Brazil twice each in Boston. Augustus started all four games and averaged 5.0 points and 3.5 rebounds an outing as the USA notched a 4-0 record.
Augustus made a name for herself as a freshman at LSU during the 2002-03 season. She led the Tigers in scoring (14.8 ppg.) and was the team's second-leading rebounder (5.6 rpg.) and helped LSU to a 30-4 record, the Southeastern Conference Tournament crown and the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight. Further, Augustus shot a LSU all-time single-season record 88.8 percent from the charity stripe (79-89 FTs). For her efforts Augustus was named the 2003 National Freshman of the Year by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) and Basketball Times, and earned 2003 All-America second team honors from Basketball Times and All-America third team honors from the Associated Press.
"I'm surprised and very humbled by my selection as USA Basketball's Male Athlete of the Year," said Duncan. "This is a great honor. I enjoyed being part of a team that was so unselfish, a team that was willing to do whatever it took to be successful. I'm honored to join the list of past recipients of this award and I'm looking forward to representing the United States and joining my USA teammates once again when we compete in the 2004 Olympics."
Duncan, an international basketball veteran who has now earned four golds and one bronze medal as a member of USA Basketball teams, averaged team highs of 15.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks a game to lead the United States to the gold medal at the 2003 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament with a perfect 10-0 record in San Juan, Puerto Rico. More important than the gold medal, the U.S. qualified for the 2004 Olympic Games in which Duncan, a 6-11 center, is expected to again showcase his skills in the international arena. Earning all-tournament team honors at the qualifier, Duncan started all nine games he played and saved his best game for last - recording 23 points, 14 rebounds and three assists in just 22 minutes of action as the U.S. routed Argentina 106-73 in the gold medal contest.
Duncan, who led or tied for high scoring honors in four games, listed fifth among all competitors in scoring and third in rebounding. Additionally, Duncan ranked sixth among the 10-team field in field goal percentage (.607), after connecting on 54-of-89 of his shots from the field, and also ranked fourth in blocked shots.
Prior to the Olympic qualifier, Duncan posted a double-double of 21 points and 15 rebounds as the U.S. plowed through Puerto Rico 101-74 in the USA's lone exhibition contest.
The 2003 NBA and NBA Finals MVP, the gold medal capped a successful year for Duncan, who led the Spurs to the NBA crown. He led the Spurs to the league's best record, 60-22, while averaging 23.3 points and career highs in rebounds (12.9 rpg.), assists (3.9 apg.) and blocks (2.92 bpg.). Named in 2002-03 All-NBA First Team for the sixth straight year (1998-2003), Duncan became the sixth player in NBA history to make the All-NBA First Team in each of his first six seasons, joining Hall of Famers Elgin Baylor, Larry Bird, George Mikan, Bob Pettit, and Oscar Robertson.
USA Basketball Athlete of the Year Award Recipients
Female - Male
2003 - Seimone Augustus - Tim Duncan
2002 - Lisa Leslie - Reggie Miller
2001 - Ayana Walker - Chris Duhon
2000 - Teresa Edwards - Alonzo Mourning
1999 - Natalie Williams - Gary Payton
1998 - Lisa Leslie - Elton Brand
1997 - Chamique Holdsclaw - Earl Boykins
1996 - Teresa Edwards - Scottie Pippen
1995 - Sylvia Crawley - Ray Allen
1994 - Dawn Staley - Shaquille O'Neal
1993 - Lisa Leslie - Michael Finley
1992 - Katrina McClain - 1992 U.S. Olympic Team
1991 - Ruthie Bolton - Christian Laettner
1990 - Teresa Edwards - Alonzo Mourning
1989 - Venus Lacey - Larry Johnson
1988 - Katrina McClain - Dan Majerle
1987 - Teresa Edwards - Danny Manning
1986 - Cheryl Miller - David Robinson
1985 - Jennifer Gillom - Chuck Person
1984 - Cheryl Miller - Michael Jordan / Sam Perkins
1983 - Lynette Woodard - Michael Jordan
1982 - Cindy Noble / LaTaunya Pollard - Glenn Rivers
1981 - Denise Curry - Kevin Boyle
1980 - Carol Blazejowski - Isiah Thomas