Ford Named Naismith Player Of Year

All in all, it was a happy 20<SUP>th</SUP> birthday present for Texas sophomore <B>T.J. Ford</B>. A day after-leading top-seeded Texas to the school&#146;s first ever back-to-back Sweet Sixteen appearances, the all-everything point guard was named the 2003 Naismith College Basketball Male Player of the Year, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Monday.

Think of it as the Heisman Trophy of college hoops. Ford is the first Texas male winner in the 35-year history of the award. (Former UT star Clarissa Davis earned the Naismith Female College Player of the Year in 1987 and 1989.) The Naismith Collegiate Player of the Year Trophy will be presented to Ford during the Naismith Awards Banquet, scheduled for Friday, April 11 in Atlanta.

"My teammates should share in this honor, as none of our program's success would be possible without them," Ford said. "This honor means a lot to me. When I took a look at the list of names who have won the award in the past, I was humbled. It does show that hard work pays off."

Now, Ford is numbered among the celebrated ranks of recipients (a veritable Who’s Who among the greats who ever played the game) including Lew Alcindor (UCLA); Pete Maravich (LSU); Bill Walton (UCLA); Larry Bird (Indiana State); Michael Jordan (North Carolina); Patrick Ewing (Georgetown); David Robinson (Navy) and Tim Duncan (Wake Forest).

Ford has already been named NCAA Division I basketball Player of the Year by both Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News magazine. He leads the No. 5 Longhorns in scoring (15.0 ppg), assists (7.40 apg), steals (1.96 spg), free throw percentage (.810) and minutes (33.5 mpg).

Last season, Ford became the first freshman in NCAA history to lead the nation in assists (8.27 apg). His 7.40 average paced the Big 12 this year. He ranks second on UT's all-time career assist list (495). Ford has recorded seven double-digit assist performances this season and 22 in his two-year career.

The Naismith Awards are named for the inventor of basketball, Dr. James Naismith. Its Board of Selectors is comprised of a group of leading basketball coaches, journalists and administrators.

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