May Named Co-USA Basketball POY

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- USA Basketball teammates Sean May and Chris Paul, who helped lead the 2004 USA World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Team to a gold medal, were selected USA Basketball co-Male Athletes of the Year by the USA Basketball Executive Committee.

"The USA Basketball Executive Committee identified two very deserving athletes for this award," said USA Basketball Executive Director Jim Tooley. "Sean May and Chris Paul share honors as their outstanding performances at the U21 World Championship Qualification Tournament propelled the team to its undefeated record and gold medal."

"To me, it's probably the greatest accomplishment I've had so far in my basketball career," said May, a junior at Carolina. "I was extremely excited and the first thing I did was call my dad to let him know. It's a great honor to me, for one to make the team and be able to play for the USA. But to be named co-Player of the Year is a great honor. It's great because Chris is a really good player, but more because we're really great friends and we played on a USA Basketball team together. Hopefully we'll play on another one down the line."

"I'm still trying to figure out how this happened," said a stunned Paul. "This is such an honor. Sean is so deserving of this, he had a great summer. He was huge for our team. But I know that neither Sean nor I could have done this without our teammates. Everything we did over the summer, we did together. My teammates made it a lot easier on me and this wouldn't have happened without them."

Only three times previously has USA Basketball selected multiple recipients for one of its awards. In 1982 Cindy Noble and LaTaunya Pollard were co-honorees for Female Athlete of the Year. Two years later Olympic gold medalists Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins collected the accolade on the men's side and in 1992 the entire U.S. Men's Olympic Team was dubbed the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year.

In its 25th year, the USA Basketball Athlete of the Year award has been garnered by notable athletes such as Ray Allen (1995), Tim Duncan (2003), Jordan (1983, 1984, as a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team), 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) and Isaiah Thomas (1980).

"My dad told me congratulations, all the hard work I put in this summer paid off," added May, whose father Scott May won an Olympic gold medal in Montreal, Canada as a member of the 1976 squad. "He said I owed a lot of it to Chris because he put me into good situations and got me the ball a lot. He's a very unselfish point guard. He also reminded me that coach (Kelvin) Sampson put me into situations to be successful, to be able to use my abilities and hide my weaknesses. He was extremely excited for me. It wasn't the Olympics, but we still wore U-S-A across our chests and we still represented our country."

May and Paul were leaders on a squad featuring the nation's top 20-and-unders that competed against other nations in their age group from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean, for a chance to qualify their country to the 2005 FIBA World Championship For Young Men. The two not only helped lead the United States to its goal of qualifying for next summer's event, they helped pace the squad to a perfect 5-0 record at the tournament and the gold medal. Additionally, the U.S. defeated Canada's young men 88-54 in an exhibition game prior to the start of the tournament.

Both players had impressive statistics, but it was the intangibles that proved invaluable to this team that featured college players from all across the country. May and Paul helped bring the team together, leading by example as USA and University of Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson stressed the importance of teamwork. The pair of All-Americans, both of whom play for schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference, set aside their in-season rivalry for the sake of the red, white and blue.

The USA's leading scorer and rebounder, May averaged 16.0 ppg. and 9.5 rpg, while also swatting a team high 1.0 blocks a game. He ranked sixth among all tournament leaders in scoring, while also listing third for rebounds. May also set a new U.S. record at the event, surpassing Olympian Tim Duncan's former record of 9.4 rpg set in 1994. The 6-9 forward/center posted a pair of double-doubles to open the tournament, including 18 points and 10 rebounds against Brazil and 19 points and 12 rebounds against Puerto Rico, which featured the NBA Washington Wizards' 7-2 center Peter Ramos. He also had a strong performance against Puerto Rico in the USA's 97-86 gold medal victory over the islanders finishing with 18 points and eight rebounds. May also paced the United States to its 88-54 exhibition victory over host Canada with 16 points, while adding seven rebounds.

Averaging 10.5 ppg, Paul, a 6-0 guard, was the USA's fourth leading scorer but his passing skills were even more important to the USA's efforts. He dished out a tournament high 7.8 apg, eclipsing former Duke All-American Jay Williams' U.S. record of 5.8 apg. set in 2000. Additionally, Paul led the field for 3-point shooting (.636) and also had a stunning 3.44 assist-to-turnover ratio, which ranked second among all participants. Paul's 13 assists against Puerto Rico set a new USA standard for single game assists. He also twice passed off for eight assists, in the semifinal against host Canada and the gold medal game versus Puerto Rico. Never scoring less than seven points an outing, Paul notched a high of 19 in the medal semifinal against Canada.

USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year Award Recipients
Year Name
2004 Sean May/Chris Paul
2003 Tim Duncan
2002 Reggie Miller
2001 Chris Duhon
2000 Alonzo Mourning
1999 Gary Payton
1998 Elton Brand
1997 Earl Boykins
1996 Scottie Pippen
1995 Ray Allen
1994 Shaquille O'Neal
1993 Michael Finley
1992 U.S. Olympic Team
1991 Christian Laettner
1990 Alonzo Mourning
1989 Larry Johnson
1988 Dan Majerle
1987 Danny Manning
1986 David Robinson
1985 Chuck Person
1984 Michael Jordan/Sam Perkins
1983 Michael Jordan
1982 Glenn Rivers
1981 Kevin Boyle
1980 Isiah Thomas

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