Emeka Okafor Named NBA Rookie of the Year

The NBA has been very nice to players from UConn this season. Yesterday, Ben Gordon (Bulls) was named the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year. Wednesday, Emeka Okafor (Hornet) was named the Rookie of the Year with 514 votes edging out ex-teammate Gordon by just 71 votes.

Emeka Okafor is the first former UConn player to earn the NBA's rookie award.

Okafor's 514 points included 77 first-place votes out of a possible 126, from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Gordon finished a close second with 443 points, while Orlando's Dwight Howard, a prep who entered the 2004 draft instead of instead of enrolling full time at North Carolina, finished third with 161 points.

Okafor is the first collegian to win this honor in three seasons. The rookie award went to prep first-year players in 2004 and 2003. LeBron James won the trophy last season while Amare Stoudamire was named the best rookie in 2003.

Okafor started every game for the Charlotte Bobcats this season. An early entrant in the 2004 NBA Draft following his junior season at UConn, Okafor was the second overall pick. Howard was no. 1. Okafor completed his bachelor degree in three years, earning his diploma in May 2004.

He led all rookies in scoring (15.1 ppg), rebounds (10.9 rpg) and minutes played (35.6 mpg), and ranked second in blocks (1.71 bpg). Okafor ranked fourth in the league in rebounding and third in offensive rebounding (3.8 rpg) while leading the Bobcats in scoring, rebounding, blocks and minutes this season.

Okafor, a three-time recipient of the got milk? Rookie of the Month award (November, December and April), ranked fourth in the NBA and first among rookies with 47 double-doubles (points-rebounds) and was only one of eight players in the league to average a double-double. He posted 19 consecutive double-doubles from November 21 to January 1, the longest streak by any NBA player this season. The last rookie to have more consecutive double-doubles than Okafor was 12-time NBA All-Star Elvin Hayes, who registered 60 straight during the 1968-69 season.

Okafor was a two-time All-American for the Huskies and led the squad to the 2004 NCAA Championship, earning recognition as the Most Outstanding Performer at the 2004 NCAA Final Four. He averaged 13.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 4.28 blocked shots per game in this three years. In his final and junior season with the Huskies, Okafor was named the 2003-04 NABC National Co-Player of the Year and was the Big East Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year as a junior. He finished his career as the all-time blocked shots leader (441) in UConn history, and the all-time leader in conference history in blocked shots per game.


Player, Team
Emeka Okafor, Charlotte 77 40 9 514
Ben Gordon, Chicago 43 73 9 443
Dwight Howard, Orlando 6 11 98 161
Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 0 2 8 14
Luol Deng, Chicago 0 0 1 1
J.R. Smith, New Orleans 0 0 1 1


1952-53: Don Meineke, Fort Wayne
1953-54: Ray Felix, Baltimore
1954-55: Bob Pettit, Milwaukee
1955-56: Maurice Stokes, Rochester
1956-57: Tom Heinsohn, Boston
1957-58: Woody Sauldsberry, Philadelphia
1958-59: Elgin Baylor, Minneapolis
1959-60: Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia
1960-61: Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati
1961-62: Walt Bellamy, Chicago
1962-63: Terry Dischinger, Chicago
1963-64: Jerry Lucas, Cincinnati
1964-65: Willis Reed, New York
1965-66: Rick Barry, San Francisco
1966-67: Dave Bing, Detroit
1967-68: Earl Monroe, Baltimore
1968-69: Wes Unseld, Baltimore
1969-70: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee
1970-71: Dave Cowens, Boston (tie)
         Geoff Petrie, Portland (tie)
1971-72: Sidney Wicks, Portland
1972-73: Bob McAdoo, Buffalo
1973-74: Ernie DiGregorio, Buffalo
1974-75: Keith Wilkes, Golden State
1975-76: Alvan Adams, Phoenix
1976-77: Adrian Dantley, Buffalo
1977-78: Walter Davis, Phoenix
1978-79: Phil Ford, Kansas City
1979-80: Larry Bird, Boston
1980-81: Darrell Griffith, Utah
1981-82: Buck Williams, New Jersey
1982-83: Terry Cummings, San Diego
1983-84: Ralph Sampson, Houston
1984-85: Michael Jordan, Chicago
1985-86: Patrick Ewing, New York
1986-87: Chuck Person, Indiana
1987-88: Mark Jackson, New York
1988-89: Mitch Richmond, Golden State
1989-90: David Robinson, San Antonio
1990-91: Derrick Coleman, New Jersey
1991-92: Larry Johnson, Charlotte
1992-93: Shaquille O'Neal, Orlando
1993-94: Chris Webber, Golden State
1994-95: Grant Hill, Detroit (tie)
         Jason Kidd, Dallas (tie)
1995-96: Damon Stoudamire, Toronto
1996-97: Allen Iverson, Philadelphia
1997-98: Tim Duncan, San Antonio
1998-99: Vince Carter, Toronto
1999-2000: Elton Brand, Chicago (tie)
           Steve Francis, Houston (tie)
2000-01: Mike Miller, Orlando
2001-02: Pau Gasol, Memphis
2002-03: Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix
2003-04: LeBron James, Cleveland
2004-05: Emeka Okafor, Charlotte

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