Wooden Award down to 20

LOS ANGELES, CA - The John R. Wooden Award Committee has announced the 20 student-athletes (see list below) named to the official voting ballot for the 2004 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 10, when CBS will nationally broadcast the John R. Wooden Award Show Presented by Allstate live from The Los Angeles Athletic Club beginning at 1 pm EST.

"Each of these 20 players should be commended for a great job in leading his respective team this season," said Richard 'Duke' Llewellyn, founder and chairman of the Wooden Award. "This year's race for player of the year is wide open, so it should be interesting to see who ultimately takes home the Wooden Award trophy."

A panel of over 1,000 voters comprised of sports media members and college basketball experts from around the nation will have until noon pacific time on Monday, March 29 to cast their votes for both the 10-member All-American team and Wooden Award recipient as the most outstanding collegiate basketball player in the United States. While other player of the year awards are voted upon prior to postseason play, the Wooden Award opts for the later March 29 deadline because it allows voters to evaluate players up until the Final Four teams have been determined.

This year's ballot, (see attached for complete list) includes players from nine NCAA conferences, including the Big East (3) Big 12 (3), SEC (3), ACC (3), Pac-10 (3), Conference USA (2), Big 10 (1), Atlantic 10 (1) and West Coast Conference (1). Eleven of the 20 candidates are juniors, including Emeka Okafor, the only 2003 Wooden Award All-American who returns to the ballot for the second consecutive year. Arizona State's Ike Diogu and Louisville's Francisco Garcia are the only two nominated sophomores on the list.

Three players who were not included on the midseason top-30 candidate list were voted onto the official ballot. After suffering a stress reaction in his left foot and missing nine games early in the season, Junior forward Josh Childress rebounded to lead the Cardinal to a perfect record and a Pac-10 championship. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State junior John Lucas has propelled the Cowboys to the top of the Big 12 standings with his spectacular play at the guard position. Senior guard Blake Stepp has played phenomenally during the latter part of the season, guiding Gonzaga to their highest national ranking since 2002.

Now in its 28th year, the John R. Wooden Award is named for the former University of California at Los Angeles coach who won ten national championships during a legendary career, while also garnering a reputation for high moral standards. Among national basketball honors, the Wooden Award is unique in that it considers both character and academic standards when naming its recipient. Each athlete must be making progress toward graduation and must be accredited by his school as maintaining a cumulative 2.0 grade point average. All 20 finalists have met the criteria to be considered on the official ballot.

The 2004 Award ceremony, which will include the presentation of the Wooden Award All-American Team, the inaugural Women's Wooden Award and the presentation of the Legends of Coaching Award to Stanford Coach Mike Montgomery, will be held at The Los Angeles Athletic Club on Saturday, April 10. The All-American Team will be announced on March 30 and the top five candidates will be invited to Los Angeles for the Awards ceremony. Each finalist will receive a contribution from the John R. Wooden Award Scholarship Fund in their name to their university's general scholarship fund.

The John R. Wooden Award Scholarship Fund was established by Wooden Award sponsor Applied Materials through the California Community Foundation to honor Coach Wooden's dedication as a teacher and educator. Applied Materials distributed $15,000 last year to each university represented by a Wooden Award All-American Team finalist (Kansas, Marquette, Oklahoma, Texas and Xavier) for a total of $75,000. Additional donations to Applied Materials' John R. Wooden Award Scholarship Fund can be made by contacting the scholarship fund through the CCF (www.calfund.org).

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 university that he is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.00 GPA. Previous winners include such notables as Michael Jordan ('84), Larry Bird ('79), Tim Duncan ('97) and last year's recipient, T.J. Ford ('03). Tabulation for all voting is calculated by Deloitte & Touche.

Wooden Award Ballot: All-American Team - Top 20 Candidates (Players listed alphabetically)

A national poll was conducted by the John R. Wooden Award National Advisor Board to determine the ballot for the 2003-2004 Wooden Award All-American Team. The top 20 candidates have been selected based on this year's individual performance and team records.

  • Josh Childress, 6-8, Jr., F, Stanford
  • Travis Diener, 6-1, Jr., G, Marquette
  • Ike Diogu, 6-8, So., F/C, Arizona State
  • Chris Duhon, 6-1, Sr., G, Duke
  • B.J. Elder, 6-4, Jr., G/F, Georgia Tech
  • Andre Emmett, 6-5, Sr., G/F, Texas Tech
  • Gerald Fitch, 6-3, Sr., G, Kentucky
  • Matt Freije, 6-10, Sr., F, Vanderbilt
  • Francisco Garcia, 6-7, So., F, Louisville
  • Ryan Gomes, 6-7, Jr., F/C, Providence
  • Devin Harris, 6-3, Jr., G, Wisconsin
  • Julius Hodge, 6-7, Jr., G/F, North Carolina State
  • Luke Jackson, 6-7, Sr., G/F, Oregon
  • John Lucas, 5-11, Jr., G, Oklahoma State
  • Jameer Nelson, 5-11, Sr., G, St. Joseph's
  • Emeka Okafor *, 6-9, Jr., F/C, Connecticut
  • Lawrence Roberts, 6-9, Jr., F/C, Mississippi State
  • Wayne Simien, 6-9, Jr., F, Kansas
  • Blake Stepp, 6-4, Sr., G, Gonzaga
  • Hakim Warrick, 6-0, Jr., F, Syracuse

    * Indicates player was a 2002-2003 John R. Wooden Award All-American.

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