Saturday, April 07, 2007

Durant First Freshman to Claim Wooden Award

As the Florida Gator Nation continued the celebration of their 2nd consecutive national championship, the L.A. Athletic Club hosted the selection of the winner of the annual John R. Wooden award on Saturday, April 7.

The award is given annually - after the conclusion of the NCAA men's basketball season - to the top player in college basketball.

For the first time in the history of the award, the honor went to a freshman: Kevin Durant of the Texas Longhorns. Durant finished #5 in the nation in scoring at 25.1 points, leading Texas to a 25-10 season. He also averaged 11.4 rebounds per game, led the Longhorns in both steals and blocks (1.9/game each) and recorded an astounding 20 double-doubles. At one point, Durant ran off a string of 6 straight double-doubles, averaging 29.7 points and 14.3 rebounds during the stretch.

Durant was a prolific scorer, hitting 83 3-pointers and scoring 30 or more points on 11 occasions, including his career-high of 37, 4 different times.

The Longhorns were bounced from the NCAA tournament in the second round by USC, but Durant's presence was felt in both tourney games. In the opener against New Mexico St., Durant scored 27 points and hauled down 8 rebounds. He had 30 points and 8 boards in Texas' 87-68 loss to Southern Cal.

After receiving the award, Durant declined to comment on whether he would turn pro or return for another season at Texas, saying he was just going to enjoy the moment. The 6'9", 225 lb. phenom is widely assumed to be heading to the NBA after an incredible season, likely to be the #1 or #2 pick in a draft loaded with talented under-and-upperclassmen.

The selection committee had previously named 10 players as finalists for the award on two teams. The 1st Team:

  • Arron Afflalo (UCLA)

  • Aaron Brooks (Oregon)

  • Kevin Durant (Texas)

  • Nick Fazekas (Nevada)

  • Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina)

2nd Team:

  • Acie Law (Texas A&M)

  • Joakim Noah (Florida)

  • Greg Oden (Ohio State)

  • Brandon Rush (Kansas)

  • Alando Tucker (Wisconsin)

Purdue's Gene Keady was the recipient of the Legends of Coaching award for the 2006-2007 season.

Candace Parker, a 6'4" forward from the Tennessee Lady Vols, won the award for the 2006-2007 top women's player.

The event was aired live on CBS.

No comments: