Montgomery Expects First Team All-American Back

Today was a big day of recognition for Josh Childress, as he racked up a rare honor in the history of Stanford Basketball. But the bigger news may have been made on a teleconference when Mike Montgomery made strong statements about how he expects the All-American junior to come back for his senior year and degree at Stanford. For more on both news items, read on...

Plenty of news is popping today for Stanford junior forward Josh Childress - more than you would expect for a 20-year old kid not even in the country. Fresh off a stinging loss that ended his junior season, the 6'8" Cardinal student-athlete is taking his spring break in Mexico - about as far away as possible from the Seattle site of Saturday's season-ending loss to Alabama.

While he is tanning, resting and recreating South of the Border, Childress is making Stanford history today as he has been named a First Team All-American by the Associated Press. He is just the second First Team AP selection in Stanford Basketball history; the first was Casey Jacobsen in his sophomore (2000-01) season. Childress already broke ground two weeks ago when he became the first ever Cardinal player to be named Pac-10 Player of the Year.

Childress averaged 15.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game despite starting the year injured. He missed the team's first nine games with a stress reaction in his foot, and it took three weeks back before he was moved into the small forward starting position. The electric junior forward was Stanford's best offensive player, with unmatched ability to create scoring opportunities off the dribble - attacking and improvising from any spot on the perimeter. He also recorded a surprising 39.5% shooting average from three-point range this year, as well as a 82.1% clip from the free throw line.

The Stanford forward was named one of five First Team selections today, joining Emeka Okafor of Connecticut, Jameer Nelson of St. Joseph's, Lawrence Roberts of Mississippi State and Ryan Gomes of Providence. Okafor and Nelson were unanimous selections, meaning they both picked up first team votes from every one of the 72 voters. Each voter named three five-man teams, with points being award: five for a first team selection, three for second team and one for third team. Childress picked up 235 out of a possible 360 points, and was named to 34 first team ballots. He finished fourth in the overall voting, ahead of Gomes.

This is news to celebrate for Cardinalmaniacs, but the bigger news today that will reverberate through every media outlet in the country came from Stanford head coach Mike Montgomery. During his midday season-concluding teleconference, he told media that he expects Childress to come back for his senior season. This adds fuel to the back-and-forth speculation that is running rampant among Stanford fans, and observers of college basketball (as well as the NBA Draft).

"I think he'd like to come back to Stanford," Montgomery proclaimed to the media today. "What kids are supposed to do is finish college and get a degree, which is what Josh has always said he wants to do."

While this news is comforting to nervous Stanford fans, staring down a thin roster next year of just 10 scholarship players if Childress leaves, it is not dispositive proof that the Card All-American will come back. Montgomery has always maintained that the more and more a kid like Childress hears that he should leave, or the more that he is asked the question, the more then that he will believe it to be something he should do. This could reasonably be taken as little more than a strategic statement by Montgomery to help keep his star player on campus for another year. However, I would maintain that there is a better than 50/50 chance for Childress to come back. The "rules" that govern the decisions of kids his age with his ability do not all apply, as Childress is a pretty different kid who cuts against the grain of today's superstars.

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