Hoops: Ford Makes Naismith Top 20 List

Sophomore point guard <B>T.J. Ford </B>has been named one of the top 20 candidates for the Naismith Male College Player of the Year, it was announced Wednesday. He joins fellow Big 12 nominees <B>Hollis Price </B>(Oklahoma) and <B>Nick Collison </B>and <B>Kirk Hinrich </B>(Kansas).

Ford is almost unselfish to a fault, and would still rather dish the ball than keep it for himself. Last year’s scoring champ, G Brandon Mouton has averaged 22.5 the past two games ("As long as he’s open, I’m going to keep feeding it to him," Ford said).

But after becoming the first freshman in NCAA history to lead the nation in assists (8.27), he is Texas’ scoring leader (14.2 ppg) while pacing the Big 12 in assists (7.32 apg). Still, the All-American candidate prefers to talk about team goals rather than individual honors.

"We’re not playing to be number two in the conference; we’re playing to be number one," Ford said. "We’re confident."

Ford, who also is one of 30 midseason candidates for the John R. Wooden Award also leads No. 3 Texas (18-4, 9-2 Big 12) in steals (2.14 spg) and minutes (32.8 mpg) this season. In league play, he is averaging a team-best 15.7 points, 7.0 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals. Ford has registered 77 assists against just 27 turnovers in Big 12 action.

Selection for the award is based on a nationwide poll of the Naismith Selection Committee. The Committee consists of National Advisory Board members, NCAA Division I coaches, former Naismith Collegiate Player of the Year winners, NCAA Division I Conference commissioners and selected media representatives.

The 2003 Naismith Collegiate Player of the Year Trophy will be presented to the award winner during the Naismith Awards Banquet, scheduled for April 11 in Atlanta.

In the meantime, Texas faces No. 16 Oklahoma State on Saturday with tip-off slated for 3 p.m. (CST) at Gallagher-Iba Arena. The game will be televised regionally by ESPN+.

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