Surprise, surprise. Must be something in the local water (see US Basketball Writers Association press release below):
HANSBROUGH, FRESHMEN HEADLINE NAISMITH CANDIDATES
Winner To Be Announced At the Final Four In San Antonio
ATLANTA (Jan. 29, 2008) – Kevin Durant has started a trend. A year after the former University of Texas phenom became the first freshman ever to win the Naismith Trophy, his feat may be repeated in 2008 as six rookies occupy spots on mid-season Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T list, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today. North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough, the lone returnee from last year’s four finalists, is joined by rookies Michael Beasley (Kansas State), Eric Gordon (Indiana), James Harden (Arizona State), Kevin Love (UCLA), O.J. Mayo (USC) and Derrick Rose (Memphis). Love was named the 2007 Naismith National High School Player of the Year. The Top 30 men’s list was voted on by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country. The board based its criteria on player performances this season, and the list was narrowed down from the pre-season list of 50 candidates who were announced at the beginning of the season. The Naismith Trophy is the most prestigious national award presented annually to the men’s and women’s college basketball players of the year. “With the influx of talent of the freshmen class it’s not surprising to see so many young players vying for the player of the year award,” said Gary Stokan, Atlanta Tipoff Club president. “Overall, this is an extremely balanced group and it will most assuredly go down to the wire in determining a winner for the most prestigious trophy in college basketball.” Again this year AT&T will give fans an unprecedented voice in selecting the winner. Fan voting, through the power and ease of text messaging, will account for 25 percent of the selection process. This program sets the standard in college athletics for integrating fans into the voting process and providing them with more input than with any other major collegiate sports award. Beginning Feb. 9, CBS Sports’ “AT&T AT THE HALF” will feature a weekly Naismith Trophy Watch highlighting the men’s players in contention for the coveted award who have distinguished themselves throughout the season. On March 23, CBS will announce the four Naismith Trophy finalists. Fans will be eligible to cast their vote for the winner until April 5. AT&T is making the voting open to other wireless carriers allowing even more fans to participate. Other wireless carriers must opt-in for their subscribers to participate. The Men’s Naismith Trophy winner will be announced April 6 at the 2008 NCAA Final Four in San Antonio. For more information, visit www.naismithawards.com.