Lofton is Wooden candidate

Tennessee sophomore guard Chris Lofton was one of 22 players named to the official voting ballot for the 2005-06 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 8, during a national CBS telecast of the John R. Wooden Award ceremony that will air live at 2 p.m. EST from The Los Angeles Athletic Club.

In SEC games this year, Lofton ranked third in the league with 18.1 points per game while leading the league with his 46.9 percent 3-point shooting and 3.81 3-pointers per game. His 48.8 field goal percentage ranks fifth in the SEC and is best among the league's guards. The Maysville, Ky., native's 103 3-pointers this season are the most in UT history and rank in a tie for fourth on the SEC single-season lists.

Lofton is one of five newcomers who have been selected to the National Ballot who were not selected to the Midseason list. This group includes Ronnie Brewer (Arkansas), Glen Davis (LSU), Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina) and Leon Powe (California). In total, 12 seniors, four juniors, and five sophomores were selected to the National Ballot. Hansbrough is the only freshman on the Ballot.

"Each of these players should be commended for their athletic and academic achievements as they have all met the comprehensive Wooden Award criteria," said Richard "Duke" Llewellyn, founder and chairman of the Wooden Award. "This year's race for the Wooden Award is wide open, and we look forward to closely following both the conference and national tournaments to see who will emerge from the talent-rich field of national finalists."

Eight NCAA conferences are represented on the list, including the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, Pac-10, SEC, Western Athletic Conference and the West Coast Conference. The best represented conferences include the Big East with five candidates and ACC with four candidates. Several teams have two players nominated, including Michigan State (Ager and Davis), Texas (Aldridge and Tucker), Villanova (Foye and Ray), West Virginia (Gansey and Pittsnogle) and Duke (Redick and Williams).

In order to be considered for the National Ballot, all players must have been accredited by their university as meeting the Wooden Award criteria which includes making normal progress towards graduation and maintaining a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. It should be noted that all players on the national ballot were deemed eligible as meeting the Wooden Award academic requirements.

A panel of over 1,000 voters comprised of sports media members and college basketball experts from around the nation will have until 3 p.m. EST on Monday, March 27 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. The Wooden Award opts for the March 27 deadline because it allows voters to evaluate players up until the Final Four has been determined.

The 2006 Wooden Award ceremony, which will include the presentation of the Men's and Women's Wooden Award, the Wooden Award All-American Teams, and Legends of Coaching Award recipient Jim Boeheim of Syracuse University, will be held at The Los Angeles Athletic Club on April 8, 2006, and will be broadcast live on a national CBS telecast.

The top five male and female finalists will be invited to Los Angeles for the awards ceremony and will receive a contribution from The Los Angeles Athletic Club for their university's general scholarship fund.

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